Braised Woodchuck Stew with Root Vegetables
Use whichever root vegetables look good in the store — potatoes, yams, winter squash, onions, turnips, rutabagas, or carrots. Think color, too.
Place woodchuck pieces in a large pot, cover with water, and add cider vinegar. Refrigerate for 12-plus hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Remove meat, pat dry, and dredge in flour. Discard the water.
Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Sauté meat in batches over medium-high to high heat until golden brown. Place onions and garlic on the bottom of pot. Lay meat over onions. Add carrots, turnips, butternut squash, and chicken broth. Bring broth to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours or until meat is fork tender and vegetables are done. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Woodchuck, Groundhog, or Whistle Pig?
They are one and the same. These small mammals spend most of their days sunning on big rocks beside streams or rivers and eating in preparation for a long winter hibernation. They are the bane of farmers because they love to dine on young sprouts, and they ruin many gardens, too. On February 2, they're coaxed to awaken by some nutty humans who think the little creatures can predict the weather.
Serves 6 to 8
1 (about 6 pounds) woodchuck, cut into pieces
Water to cover
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup seasoned flour
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 onions, quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 turnips, peeled and chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 cups chicken broth, or more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste