Bear meat is a unique texture. It is somewhere between pork and beef. Like any wild animal, it does have a ‘gamey’ flavor when the fat or gristle is consumed but with the right preparation and recipe, that taste can be avoided. Some of the hunter’s advice below is true; bear meat has a stench to it that is admittedly unappetizing. Depending on how much muscle or fat the bear had gained over the summer season, the meat can be chewy and strong. The desirable meat has been cut clean of the fat, tendons, and other areas that hold the ‘gamey’ flavors. The right recipe can also help contrast the ‘gamey’ flavors and complement the meat itself. I often choose stew, stir fry, or the meat of today’s topic: stroganoff.
Hunting for Brown Bear
This activity is not for the light-hearted. This is a dangerous hunt that takes knowledge and understanding of the animal, its habitat, and the weaponry needed to hunt this big game. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has bountiful information about hunting regulations and open seasons. If you ask any Alaskan hunter they will tell you their own thoughts and personal rules around harvesting bear and each piece of advice will contradict the other.
- Only harvest spring bear, the meat will taste the best.
- Harvest brown bears in the middle of the summer so you get the best hide from the harvest.
- You don’t want to harvest a bear after the salmon season, the meat will be rank and sour.
- Bears taste the best when they are eating berries.
Ultimately it is all of a matter of opinion, and my opinion is that you can make any bear meat taste good with the right recipe.
Our First Bear
I am grateful that I don’t have to harvest my own bear. My husband loves hunting and was filled with joy when he got his first brown bear in September of 2020. He was commercial fishing outside of Port Armstrong and had a few days to spare. Instead of resting from the long hours at sea, he chose to put in the hard work and dedication required to hunt for bear. The town’s fish cannery brought in many bears of all shapes and sizes. They would slink around the edges of the town, following the scent of the bountiful salmon industry. He saw a mid-sized brown bear combing the beaches and through his scope saw a patch of white fur on the ear. This marking isn’t common for brown bears and it interested him. He asked the locals if they had seen a bear like that before and they shared stories of a bear from a few years back with similar markings and that they have seen her offspring every year. Inspired by the special marking, my husband decided to go look for that particular bear and go in for the kill, despite its average size.
The day of the kill he got the bear in his scope, watched the beautiful animal take a few strides, and in one deep inhale, took the shot. He was overjoyed to see the animal gracefully fall to the shoreline. A hunter finds pride in a proper kill; a single shot that does not bring unnecessary pain or suffering to the animal. After coming down from the excitement he started to skin the animal. He was hesitant to harvest the meat, due to all of the opinions he had heard. He went with his instinct and decided to take the prime cuts home along with the hide and the skull.
Choosing the Right Bear Recipe
For this recipe we decided to go with the Alaskan Brown Bear Stroganoff. It’s an easy meal to prepare, is full of flavor and does not have that gamey taste that some bears will have.
Alaskan Brown Bear Stroganoff
- 10 oz Brown or Black Bear Meat (I chose the backstrap cut)
- 1 container White Mushrooms
- 1/4 Yellow Onion
- 3 tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 4 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- 1/4 cup Sour Cream
- 1/4 cup Cream Cheese
- 1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan
- 1 cup Spinach
- 2 tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons Garlic Powder
- 1 box Organic Red Lentil Penne Noodles.
- Slice the bear meat into small 1/2 inch cubes, cutting away any gristle or fat.
- Mince the garlic cloves and dice the onion.
- Slice the mushrooms.
- Separate the thyme leaves from the stem and mince.
- Bring three quarts of water to a boil and add in the noodles. They should take 7-9 minutes but as they boil, check their consistency for a texture you prefer.
- In a large pan or a wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. While it warms, cover the bear meat in the Montreal seasoning and garlic powder, making sure all sides are covered in seasoning.
- When the oil begins to pop and crackle, add the meat to the pan, stirring occasionally.
- When the meat begins to brown, add in the garlic, mushrooms, and onions. Continue to stir until the meat is brown on all sides.
- Add in the soy sauce, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the Greek yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese and mix until all parts are combined. Let the mixture bubble on medium-low heat.
- As the flavors combine, strain the noodles and rinse with warm water. Add the noodles to the dish and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
Let us know if you tried our Alaskan Brown Bear Stroganoff recipe and what you thought of it.