Bear Carnitas


Yes, you read that correctly. My son was gifted with some bear meat, so I volunteered to cook it for him (none of us had tried it). My mind usually goes to Mexican when I think of cooking meat and I was really leaning toward carne asada or colorado but I wanted to be able to taste the meat. So, I settled on this simple already-loved recipe.

Here’s the link (for those who do not know, if I post a recipe, I only post the ingredients. You have to visit the link to read their instructions).

Bear Carnitas

  • 18 pounds bone-in pork shoulder (skin-on picnic shoulder is a good choice, too), cut into 2-pound chunks
  • 1/2cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2cup salt
  • About 4 gallons lard or vegetable oil
  • If using vegetable oil: 1pound piece of slab bacon, cut it into 6 or 8 pieces

First: I did not have 18 pounds of bear meat. I had maybe two. So, all quantities were adjusted accordingly (just sprinkled with salt). Second: I used lemon juice because that’s what I had. I also cooked it in beef fat (with about a cup of bacon grease) because I just rendered a bunch a few months ago. Third: I used my crock pot on high for the first step of cooking. For the final step, I got lazy and just tossed the meat under the broiler to crisp up.

I let the meat cook in the crock pot for about 5 hours, until the meat broke apart with a little force. I drained it on paper towels, transferred it to an old pie pan and threw it under the broiler for a few minutes.

I was surprised by the flavor! Hank Shaw described bear’s flavor as beefy pork or porky beef and he was right! I love it! I did not add any other seasoning to this meat and it’s perfect. So, If I could eat all of this (it’s going home with my son after he gets off work), it would be in a bowl with grated cheese, salsa, diced onion, cilantro (see? Fruit AND vegetables), and sour cream.

Grrrrr … Bear!

Grrrrr … Bear!

This article was written by Bonnie Farner and would be a shame if it was lost in the land of “website unavailable”.

© Bonnie Farner

Most wild game animals are have quite lean meat especially venision. I’ve seen bears with at least 3-4″ of fat on them but you can slice it off down to the lean part. I save every bit of bear fat I can get my hands on as it comes in handy for fying, baking, oiling boots and chapped hands. It also stores very well and I’m using some donated bear oil (’95) and it is not rancid.

Wild pork doesn’t have very much fat at all either and tastes pretty well even if it’s an old boar. I just cooked some wild boar this week that was tending to be on the “strong” side but I added a couple of wild crabapples to the pot and it helped. Also a dash of vinegar and a change of water helps take the wild taste out.

Squirrels are on my menu each fall as well as other game but I’ve tried racoon and didn’t like the taste. I don’t like lamb and thought the coon tasted pretty much like mutton.

Mixing wild game with wild herbs and edibles is something I experiment with every fall as we always have some kind of wild meat in the freezer. I’ve found that you can concoct some pretty tasty meals. You can add just about any wild nut to stews and I’ve added ground cherries as well to give them some zip. Ground spice bush bark goes well with just about any wild meat but use it sparingly.

Here’s some of my favorite bear recipes for those who can get bear meat:


Bear Stew

  • 3 pounds bear meat, cut in 1″ cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced to a pulp (I use 4 whole Ramps – tops and bottoms)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (or 2 T. chopped wild celery)
  • 1 onion, sliced (wild onion can be used)
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2-3 wild crabapples (peeled and cored) or 1 small tart apple
  • 1 cup dry white wine (homemade, of course)
  • 1 (6 once) can tomato, crushed (dash of Tabasco) – I use 1 cup of ripe ground cherries
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Season the bear meat with salt to taste and pan fry in shortening until browned. Sauté the garlic, celery, onion and green pepper. Simmer until onion is golden brown. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until meat is well done.
4-6 Servings


Bear Stroganoff

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 pounds of bear round, cube into 1″ squares (all fat removed)
  • 6 ounce jar of whole button mushrooms (morrels are good if you can find ’em)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 pint Brown Gravy
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt and pepper
  • boiled rice or noodles (wild rice pilaf with almond slivers or hickory nuts)

Place 1/2 cup butter, the cubed bear meat and mushrooms in a heavy skillet and sauté until brown.

Mix the white wine and vinegar and boil for 5 minutes. Heat the Brown Gravy and add the white wine and vinegar mixture.

Add the sour cream to the hot gravy mixture stirring constantly.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of un-melted butter. Stir well. Drain all butter from the bear and mushrooms. Pour sauce over the bear and mushrooms.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot over cooked rice or noodles (wild rice pilaf)

4-6 Servings


Pan Fried Bear Steaks

  • 1/2 onion, medium sliced
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon whole pickling spice
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 4 bear steaks, 1″ thick
  • butter or cooking oil for frying
  • salt and pepper

Make a marinade on onion, vinegar, water, vegetable oil, pickling spice and salt. (add 1/2 t. grated spice bush bark) Place steaks in a bowl, add marinade and refrigerate covered for 24 hours. Turn meat occasionally.

Remove from marinade and pan fry in butter or cooking oil until well done on each side. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4 Servings


Bear Roast

  • 5 pound roast (all fat removed)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 strips bacon or salt pork
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (wild onion or ramps ok)
  • 2 ribs celery, cut in 3″ pieces (wild celery to taste – it’s very strong so use sparingly)

Place roast in pan and season with salt and pepper. Lay 5 bacon strips or salt pork on roast. Cover with onion and celery.
Bake covered at 350 degrees for 3 hours or until meat is well done. To brown, uncover last 1/2 hour.

5-6 Servings


Bear Meatloaf

  • 2 lb ground meat
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce (I used mashed ground cherries)
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped, I also add 1 small can of mushrooms or fresh mushrooms (wild morrels good too).

Bake at 350 until done (about an hour). when it looks close to being done, maybe 15 minutes, I spread either BBQ sauce or ketchup over the top.


Spiced Bear Roast

  • 3 1/2 to 4 lb. boneless bear rump roast
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots (wild ok but use sparingly – QAL)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup dry red wine (muscadine or elderberry wine is good)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice (or grated spice bush)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise

Heat oven to 400 F. Place roast in bottom of 3 quart roasting pan with cover. With sharp knife, cut 12 slits, 1/2 inch deep, in top of roast. Place 1 clove in each slit. In medium mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except bacon. Pour mixture over roast. Arrange bacon slices across roast. Insert meat thermometer in roast. Cover tightly. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 F. Bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until meat is tender and internal temperature registers 165 F. Remove cover. Bake for 15 minutes longer.
Let roast stand for 10 minutes. Carve roast across grain into thin slices.



Assiniboin Bear Stew

  • 5 lb Bear meat
  • 5 med Dandelion roots, sliced
  • 3 c Maple or birch sap
  • 25 med Arrowhead tubers, sliced
  • 4 c Water
  • 1 Handful fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Thumbnails coltsfoot salt
  • 4 Wild onions
  • 3 Wild leeks, cut up

Trim all fat from the meat and wash well in cold water. Cut the meat into 2-inch cubes. Skewer the mat on a sapling and sear on all sides over an open fire. Pour the sap and
water into the plastic liner and add remaining ingredients. Put the sapling basket in the kettle and drop the red hot stones into the basket. As the stones cool, change them
to keep the stew simmering for about 45 minutes. Remove the basket and stones and serve the stew as hot as possible.

Source: “Indian Cookin'”, compiled by Herb Walker, 1977