Rattlesnake Meat – The Other White Meat?

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Rattlesnake meat, besides being a widespread Hispanic folk remedy in its dried form, offers itself in an array of recipes. From rattlesnake fajita pitas to deep-fried and served with coleslaw, this disreputable reptile plays a significant part in the world of what we here in America consider exotic cuisine.

The Sweetwater, Texas annual Rattlesnake Roundup may be the catalyst that launched the popularity of rattlesnake meat in the U.S., but in actuality, rattlesnake meat gets consumed worldwide. Some cultures prize it as a delicacy, and it’s believed in certain Asian cultures to literally “warm the heart” when eaten.

The Texas event, arguably the world’s biggest cultural advertisement hawking the reptile’s meat, began in the 1950s and since its inception has harvested nearly a quarter-million pounds of rattlesnake meat. From barbecued to the main meat ingredient in chili, rattlesnake meat rakes in both tourist and local Sweetwater residents’ money like nothing else.

Rattlesnake meat – whether consumed as a delicacy or as a novelty – should never be eaten raw, even when offered dried. Raw rattlesnake meat carries rare, yet potentially deadly parasites and has been documented to infect humans with salmonella bacteria so thorough cooking is imperative.

Easier to find on Internet Web sites than in local grocery stores or markets, rattlesnake meat most often comes canned. Some sellers offer it dried. But to get it fresh, one most probably needs to brave the wilds of some place as hot and arid as the West Texas panhandle and kill it one’s self.

When asked how it tastes, many rattlesnake meat eaters respond, “Just like chicken!” So, with that in mind, it’s only reasonable to assume cooking rattlesnake meat would be the same as cooking chicken. As nearly all rattlesnake cooks proclaim, “It’s the catching that’s the hard part.” So for those to whom catching and cleaning a rattlesnake comes easy, here’s a recipe for the eating that comes afterward:

After cutting off the head, skinning and thoroughly washing, cut rattlesnake meat into three-inch pieces. Roll in a mixture of flour, cracker crumbs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Deep-fry ‘til golden brown at medium-high heat. Serve with French-fried potatoes, coleslaw and plenty of ice-cold beer on the side. Enjoy!

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