When the subject of ground hogs, whistlepigs to some, comes up, the question I hear most often is “what do they taste like?” As for most of these type of inquiries, the answer is “Groundhog.”
If I had to pick a meat most people were familiar with to offer up a comparison, grass-fed beef normally comes to mind. Since they are pretty similar in flavor and texture, most recipes that work for beef work well for groundhog too. A couple of good ones are roasted in a Dutch oven with carrots, potatoes, and onions, or ground for burgers on the grill.
But my favorite groundhog recipe is Smoked Whistlepig Sandwiches. Seasoned up and slow-smoked on the Traeger for two to three hours, then wrapped tightly along with sliced onions and beer, the groundhog meat falls off the bone and shreds up beautifully. Sauce it up and give it a try, I think you will agree.
6-12 pound groundhog, skinned and field dressed
1 large sweet yellow onion, sliced
1 dark beer
BBQ Rub, I used Traeger’s new Big Game Rub
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
Skin and dress the groundhog, taking care to remove the pearl kernel-shaped scent glands along the backbone and under the front legs (more important on older groundhogs)
Rinse the groundhog well, picking off any stray hairs that might be stuck to the meat. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel or two.
Liberally shake your favorite BBQ rub over all exposed meat, rubbing it into the meaty rear legs and backstraps. That’s right, whistlepigs have backstraps, and they are as good as you would imagine them to be when stripped off the backbone, rolled in seasoned flour, and fried.
Place the groundhog directly on the smoker grate at a relatively low temperature. On the Traeger, we set it at 225 degrees, and allow it to slowly smoke for two to three hours, depending on the size of the groundhog. You are watching for an internal temperature of around 165 degrees in the thickest part of the ham.
While the groundhog smokes, slice an onion and place it in a disposable aluminum pan or on a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil large enough to completely wrap the groundhog. Once your meat has hit the desired temperature, move the groundhog to the pan or onto the foil. If you are using foil, wrap it up and around the groundhog, forming a shallow bowl. If you are using a pan, just move the groundhog into it.
Pour in a dark beer and seal the package tightly to hold in the steam. Return the groundhog to the heat and continue to cook for another two to three hours at 250-275 degrees. Carefully remove the groundhog from the heat and pull the foil up to allow steam to escape. Move the whistlepig to a large cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat from the bone. Pour on your favorite BBQ sauce and give everything a good stir to evenly coat the meat.
Serve the Smoked Whistlepig just like you would any BBQ, you might even enjoy letting your diners play a game of “Guess That Meat!”
Share your recipes at #Timber2Table
Have a recipe you would like to suggest as a feature? Email us and let us know!