I’ve never eaten or cooked with bear meat before, but over the holidays I had the chance to buy some meat from a bear taken in Iwate in December so I jumped at it. The meat unfortunately was cut into small irregular slices for yakiniku, so I made it into sausages. In Japan bear meat has a bad reputation but I found it is delicious as-is (I fried a slice to see) without any off-smells, is very tender and very fatty – not at all deserving of the accusations of being smelly, lean or tough. I don’t normally post recipes on my blog but here you go, in case you like making your own sausages and know someone who has just shot a bear.
The sausage looks like it might be a bit dry in the photo, but it is not: it is very tender, moist and delicious, as well as being possibly the richest sausage I have ever made (above even puddings, black and white). The bear is a gentleman so I thought I had better flavour the sausage with red wine and traditional English spices. The result was not bad.
1 kg bear meat, fat left on
0.5 kg pork shoulder (I only used this to eke out the bear meat weight as I wanted to make the biggest batch possible for my stuffer and nor waste casings)
110g cheap Japanese small-crumb breadcrumbs (panko) – these are pretty close to rusk
32g sea salt
205ml red wine (I used a young Pinot Noir)
3tbs balsamico vinegar
5g freshly ground pepper (I used a mix of black, white and pink peppercorns)
2g ground allspice
1g dried parsley
hog casings to stuff approximately 1.9 kg of sausage
Grind the meats once, with the medium die. Immediately add the wine, vinegar, breadcrumbs and all seasonings and mix till tacky. Stuff into hog casings in the orthodox manner. Leave the sausages to dry overnight in fridge (or hang up for a few hours in a cold room or porch, as chances are it will be winter/hunting season). Bear meat comes with a genuine risk of harbouring Trichinella guests so you need to cook the sausages thoroughly: read up on this subject if you are unsure on this. Anyway, once cooked it comes out as a very flavourful, fatty, spiced, rich sausage – you might want to reduce the allspice or add some cayenne pepper instead, or replace some of the wine with red wine vinegar if you want to have a more delicate finish.