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The Weird Cooking Guide

Maxim’s guide to gruesome recipes for your upcoming Halloween festivities. Enjoy your roadkill!

Tired of the familiar steak and potatoes every night? Next time you make yourself a good home-cooked meal, try firing up the wackadoo, the downright gross, or the hey-I-thought-that-was-poisonous, with these five recipes from some of the world’s most seasoned and fearless eaters. Speaking of seasoned: It's probably good to keep a shaker of salt and a bottle of hot sauce handy in case of picky eaters (or just making sure your bugs are dead). Voila - tastes like chicken!


Are you a leg man, or a thorax man?


BUG KABOBS
Using a sweep net or a good ol’ fashioned margarine tub, capture your backyard bugs of choice -- grasshopper, katydid, locust, that damn cricket keeping you up at night -- and send ‘em off to sleepyland with a quick trip to the freezer. “It’s the most humane way to kill them because they’re cold-blooded, so they basically just fall into slumber,” says David George Gordon, author of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook: 33 Ways to Cook Grasshoppers, Ants, Water Bugs, Spiders, Centipedes and Their Kin . Then simply defrost, marinate, spear and sear for your personal “Sheesh!” kabobs.

12 frozen katydids, locusts or other suitably sized Orthoptera, thawed
1 red pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 small yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (parsley, mint, thyme and/or tarragon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch of freshly ground pepper

Mix the last eight ingredients in a non-reactive baking dish. Add bugs, cover and marinate overnight. When ready to cook, remove the insects from the marinade. Pat them dry, for ease of handling. Assemble each kabob, alternately skewering the insects, peppers and onion wedges to create a visually interesting (you're feeding party guests bugs--this is a vital step) line-up.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and place the kabobs on an oven-proof cooling rack; this will allow them to cook from the bottom as well so you don't have to keep turning them over (because we all know that is a pain-in-the-ass). The exact cooking time will vary, depending on the kind of oven and types of insects used; however, the kabobs should cook for no longer than eight or nine minutes. Scarf down within dashing-distance of the nearest restroom. You know, just-in-case those creepy crawlers don't agree with your intestines.

 


It actually looks worse after you scrub the mud off it.

 

BAKED BURDOCK ROOT
Always in season and quite popular in Asia, burdock root can be found in many parks and some backyards, and can sub for radishes, beets, carrots or turnips. The only difference is “the burdock root is much more flavorful,” says “Wildman” Steve Brill, creator of the WildEdibles apps, which provide identifying info and recipes for all kinds of foraged foods. Harvest the root after a rainfall when the ground is soft and muddy, check for creepy-crawly infestation (moth and butterfly larvae in particular find burdock delicious. Appetizing, huh?), then get it in the oven ASAP. “They’re quite perishable, so the sooner the better,” Brill says.

4 cups burdock root, thinly sliced
½ cup garlic butter
½ teaspoon Vege-sal (a seasoned salt available in health food stores)
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together, wrap in foil, and put into a 200 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until roots are slightly browned. Wash down with room-temperature ale while wearing socks and sandals (because that's how they do it over there, right?).

 


If you eat this, they’ll give you wind (of change)


SCORPION SCALOPPINE
What you may call Arizona Desert hairy scorpion (especially if you live out West), Gordon calls “mini lobster.” When pan-fried, these arid-air arachnids cook up “very much like a lobster,” he explains, “with a lotta meat in the tail and claws.” Yes, we would have to agree. Sort of.

8 frozen Arizona Desert hairy scorpions or similar species, thawed
1 pint low fat milk
1 cup white cornmeal
pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 red pepper, cut into 1 ½-inch chunks
1 small yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Using a sharp knife, remove and discard stingers and venom glands from the tips of the scorpions’ tails (we suggest you be completely thorough on this one). Pour milk into a medium-sized bowl; add scorpions and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
In a pan, melt the butter. Remove scorpions from the milk, allowing excess to drain off. Dredge scorpions through the cornmeal, one at a time. Shake off excess flour. Place the scorpions in the hot butter, and cook until golden brown (about 2 minutes), then turn scorpions over and cook until done (about 1 minute). Drain on paper toweling, sprinkle with lemon juice and chopped parsley. Eat while laughing maniacally like a super-villain.

 


After a crack binge, Steve liked to sleep it off outside his ex-girlfriend’s house


FAMOUS ROAST ROCKY RACCOON 
Nowhere is it legal to run over an animal on purpose (however, feel free to shoot them in heavily wooded areas at your leisure), but when it comes to accidental road kill, several states have adopted a “you flattened it, you fillet it” policy, allowing you to take your squish-of-the-day home for dinner. (Note: Never scavenge road kill you haven’t killed yourself. You don’t know how long it’s been sitting there or how many maggots have invested in its skin). Buck Peterson, author of Quick-Fix Cooking with Roadkill, recommends raccoons’ lean, dark meat as a particularly good eat, “especially coming off a golf course.” A tip for the amateur frontiersman: When faced with skinning a raccoon or another similarly-sized animal, remember that all you’re doing is “taking off his overcoat,” Peterson suggests. Unzip the front with your knife, then help him out of his (four) furry sleeves.

1 medium-sized raccoon
Salt and pepper
Rosemary sprigs
Virgin olive oil

Skin and gut the carcass, then remove the head and paws, making sure to remove the scent glands from under the front legs and thighs. Wash and pat dry, then season with salt and pepper and add rosemary sprigs to the cavity. Elaborate roadkill is the best kind of roadkill.
Place the oil-coated raccoon in a 400 degree oven, then let it cook for roughly two hours. When the skin looks like it is fully ripened, yank that sucker out and serve with baked yams. And a rabies shot.

 


“It only hurts me when I laugh."


BUCK'S FAMOUS DEER CAMP FRIED SQUIRREL
You can roast a cleaned squirrel marshmallow-style, skewered on a stick and held over a campfire. But even Buck Peterson recommends putting it on a proper stove: “You can’t control the temperature of a campfire, and wild game tends to be so lean”, he says. “There’s no fat, no marbling to help grease what you’re cooking, so you really have to be careful.” Or as careful as you can be when you’ve just spent the day up a tree, catching squirrels.

Larger squirrel parts (legs and hams)
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup seasoned all-purpose flour
Salt and ground black pepper

Place the squirrel parts in a glass container and cover with the buttermilk. Store in the refrigerator and let soak overnight. When ready, heat a cast-iron skillet to medium-high. Roll the squirrel parts in olive oil and then in the seasoned flour. Fry until golden brown, add salt and pepper to taste. Sit down and weep for lost innocence.

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