John Snedden knows muskrat is a tough sell to diners, but that’s not stopping him from turning them into a stew.
“That’s something they’ve never seen on the dinner table,” he says.
The owner of Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company brings “Grills Gone Wild” back to all four of its Washington-area restaurants next week to kick off the spring grilling season. The five-day event has been around for six years, but this time, Rocklands is adding a local spin to the annual affair.
In the past, “Grills Gone Wild” has boasted menu items such as bear, antelope, ostrich, and lion. However, this year, Rocklands will serve up blue catfish from the Chesapeake Bay, muskrat and beaver from a Southern Maryland butcher, and grilled gizzards from chickens already used by the restaurant.
“We’re always looking to see what we can do locally, and I had this relationship with this butcher,” Snedden says. “Talking with him, it seemed like it was available, and it was a good idea and it was something that made sense to us.”
The wild beaver goes into a sausage with pork that’s served in a sandwich with broccoli rabe and balsamic onions. The beaver, along with the muskrat used for a Brunswick stew, is harvested in the winter for its pelts. Both meats are lean, dark, and earthy, Snedden says. Muskrat reminds him of duck, and beaver is more similar to venison or elk.
Although the dishes might be challenging to average diners, Snedden says if nothing else, the prices should sell them. The most expensive item for the special, which runs from March 3 to 8, rings in at just less than $9.
“Its very approachable from a value standpoint,” he says. “I think [the dishes are] fun and they’re actually…they’re all actually very good.”
And the dishes likely won’t be anything new to regular hunters and fishers, who already enjoy the flavor profiles that come from a wild harvest, Snedden says.
“All the meat is fresh, it’s certainly hormone-free. You know it’s very green,” he says.
Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company; rocklands.com.