If you’ve finally bagged that woodchuck that’s been plaguing your garden all summer, this is a great way to honor the little guy on your table. Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, are vegetarians and they’re not too much different than rabbits. A bit slower running, and solitary, but they’re basically just big wild rabbits.
This buttermilk fried groundhog recipe is based on my extra crispy buttermilk fried chicken recipe, but I’ve added in a few herbs to complement our grass fed friend.
If you’ve never processed your own wild game, or you’re just looking for a few pointers specific to groundhogs, head over to my article on how to clean and skin a groundhog. It’s surprisingly quick and easy if you have the right tools. The main thing to keep in mind is that woodchucks have scent glands that need to be removed to keep the meat from tasting musky.
This recipe involves an overnight marinade in buttermilk, along with a number of spices including garlic, paprika and thyme.
Once you’ve marinaded your groundhog, the marinade doubles as part cooking dredge. Take the woodchuck and dredge it in flour, and then place it back in the marinade one more time before dredging it in flour again. This double coating results in the extra crispy flavorful fried meat that we all love.
Buttermilk Fried Woodchuck (Groundhog)
Our woodchuck was 7lbs whole, but only about 2.5 pounds of meat when cleaned and skinned. Scale the recipe up or down depending on the size of your animal.
2 to 3 lb Groundhog/Woodchuck meat, quartered and skinned
2 cups buttermilk
1 Tbs. smoked paprika
1 tsp. garlic granules or powder (or several cloves fresh garlic, pressed)
1 tsp. onion granules or powder
1 tsp. each of thyme, oregano and parsly
1/2 tsp. salt
Once you’ve parted up your groundhog you should have front legs, saddle (hips and loin) and hind legs. You can save the spin and ribcage for stock. Place it in a tupperware or ziploc bag, along with the remaining ingredients above and marinade 12 to 24 hours. To bread and fry, you’ll need:
2 cups flour (approximate)
2 cups canola oil (approximate)
When you’re ready to cook, heat 2 inches of oil in a deep thick bottomed pan. I use an enameled cast iron dutch oven. Dredge the woodchuck pieces in flour to coat, and then dip them back into the marinade before you dredge them in flour a second time. (The double dredging is key to a good crispy coating.) Fry, turning once, until the coating is cooked to a deep brown color. Remove to drain on paper towels.
Have you ever had groundhog? What’s your favorite way to cook it? Leave a not in the comments.