CANIS Cooks: Bear-Bacoa Tacos
I always grew up hearing that bear meat was greasy, tough, and only good when made into sausage. I am here today to tell you that could not be farther from the truth. Bear has quickly become my favorite game meat. Bear is a unique wild game meat because it contains inter-muscular marbled fat similar to beef. Unlike any ungulate, the fat is not only consumable, but delectable.
If you’re familiar with bears and bear hunting, you know that the meat must be generally cooked to 160 degrees to kill any trichinosis. Slow cooking bear meat is a great way to confidently avoid trichinosis, and make the meat incredibly tender.
Barbacoa is a Mexican method of cooking made with beef cheeks and tongue. Traditionally, it would be cooked underground on the bone for 10-12 hours and served in a burrito, taco, quesadilla, bowls, etc. Today we are making tacos, but the versatility is only limited by your creativity.
One of my favorite cuts of meat just happens to be what most people would probably throw away or add to their grind pile. We are using one whole bear shank for this recipe but any fatty roast will work. I prefer bone in cuts for this because of the flavor you receive from the marrow.
- Bear shank or roast (2-3 lbs)
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- Oregano (1 tsp)
- Bear/beef stock (2 cups)
- Water (1 cup)
- Chipotle in adobo sauce (2 peppers diced)
- Garlic (2 cloves minced)
- White Onion (1/2 onion)
- Lime juice (1-2 limes)
- Orange juice (1/2 orange)
Start off by heating up a pan to medium high heat. Next, you’ll rub the meat with olive oil or avocado oil and modestly season with salt and pepper. Then brown the roast on all sides in your pan.
Once this is complete, you can place your meat into an empty crockpot. Add in your ingredients and cover the meat with your beef stock and water. Cook for 6-8 hours on low, or on high for 4-6 hours or until meat is fork tender. Once your meat is fork tender, shred it into a desirable consistency, and serve!
I prefer simple toppings to pair with the bear-bacoa. There is already so much flavor in this meat from the fat, bone marrow, and added ingredients that it needs very little help. Preferably served on a homemade tortilla, cotija cheese, diced white onion, cilantro, lime juice, and your favorite red salsa or a splash of the leftover sauce in the crockpot.
This meal is very hands off and can be cooked all day while you’re out and about. Impress the skeptics with this dish and enjoy the bounty.
Recipe by Spencer Freehling