Delicious Turtle Meat!

It is said that turtle meat contains the flavors of 7 different meats.  I have identified 5 - veal, fish, pork, chicken and crawfish or crab... not sure about the other 2... maybe raccoon...  All I can tell you is that turtle meat is amazing.  I was a big fan of the original, Japanese version of Iron Chef.  I recall that Chairman Kaga said that his ideal meal would include turtle.  In the South, the turtle most eaten is the common snapping turtle.

This critter is easy to catch, can be quite large and has a long history in American, especially gourmet, food.  Turtle soup is the classic dish, but turtle can be prepared a variety of way.  Pan Fried turtle may be the best meat I have ever tasted. 

The first regional (and one of the first) cookbooks written and published in America was the Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph.  She was related to Pocahontas, Thomas Jefferson (America's first gourmet) and Robert E. Lee.  Mrs. Randolph devoted a section of her classic book to preparing and cooking turtles.  See below, courtesy of the MSU Library:

I recently found an illustrated guide to hunting and dressing turtles online:

I don't hunt turtle this way for 2 reasons: 1) I grew up (part time) in eastern NC, where the swamps where we caught turtles were also full of alligators, water moccasins and the alligator snapping turtle (as opposed to the common snapping turtle) which can kill  "noodler" or take off his arm very quickly.  2) I'm currently residing in Tennessee, where only the common snapping turtle may be taken, and only through fishing methods.  Prior to now, I have used traps, nets and .22 rifles to take my turtles.  I'll have to learn entirely new methods in TN.  I will blog about these techniques as I learn them.  Oddly, TN requires a hunting license for turtles and a fishing license for frogs... I have a feeling that things will be very different on this side of the Blue Ridge!


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