Rattlesnake .... Hmmm, Tastes Just Like Chicken! ... Maybe.
Rattlesnake meat is mild delicacy, with a lean, chewy texture.
However, due to the generally thin diameter, if cooked a second too long, or with the heat on too high, it can become tough, even stringy.
And because the carcass is highly variable in thickness, you need to direct more heat toward thicker portions when cooking.
And snakes come with lots of bones - not unlike a chicken neck or bony fish - which can be a gnawing pleasure or just a lot of work to find your calories.
Of course, deboning a snake can be a bit of an art...
Because of the sensitivity to cooking and "hide-N-seek" aspects of eating rattlesnake, proper preparation and cooking is essential for tenderness and full enjoyment of the wonderful, mild flavor of snake meat.
Rattlesnake meat also offers an interesting feature, as a sort of a culinary "chameleon".
If you cook it like you would normally cook fish, the mild flavor seems to gravitate toward a fish taste.
If you cook the meat like chicken, by contrast, it tends to taste a bit more like chicken! (And of course, you already know the joke about how almost everything tastes like chicken! ;-)
Anyway, these are the kinds of culinary challenges we face when cooking rattlesnake meat!
Snake meat offers very special challenges
Rattler meat is extremely lean, variable in thickness (but mostly thin), with a long, potentially stringy, texture.
These features combine to make for a very dry and chewy meat - unless you make adjustments to the most popular traditional cooking options.
The "big six" moisture-enhancing cooking tactics (most of which overlap) are:
2. Cooking in Foil
4. Baking in Sauce
5. Parboiling in a Liquid
Using one of these methods, or several in combination, will almost always yield a juicier and more tender sidewinder, with a more palatable texture.
And as always, the basic rule of thumb: cook until just tender, not a minute longer (in fact, not even a SECOND longer), and ALWAYS, protect the valuable meat from drying out.
Start with 1 medium or 2 small rattlesnakes (cut into 4-6 inch pieces)
Marinade in the following:
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic (pressed)
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- salt and fresh ground pepper -- to taste
- Marinate 4-6 hours. Grill about 3 (+/-) minutes each side of the backstrap. Brush with marinade to keep the meat moist.
- Or wrap in tinfoil and grill on low until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Thickness and size of snake chunks as well as heat intensity will vary the cooking time.
How Many People Will a Rattler Feed?
According to Tracy Painter, author of RATTLESNAKE COOKING MADE EASY: on average, a typical 24- to 30-inch wild rattler carcass probably weighs a pound or less, once cleaned and skinned. So there's really not all that much meat on them to start with.
If you only have one snake, figure feeding one to four people, depending upon size. And of course, individual specimens and species vary a LOT in size. And farm raised will be a bit plumper, for the same length. Two, or even three, snakes are normally more suitable for a meal, when you have quests.
Depending on how many are coming to dinner, most of the recipes in the "Original RATTLESNAKE COOKBOOK" will work without alteration; for others you may need to halve - or double - the recipe, depending upon the size of your snake and the girth of your guests.
Gender plays a role too, as male guests will tend to eat bigger portions, and lean toward a higher percentage of protein in their meal.
And of course, always select enough side dishes to feed out the number of people you plan to entertain at the table.
In the cookbook, Tracy includes 15 homestyle "side carbs" ranging from "Old Timey Sourdough Biscuits" to Dumplings to a thick "Hot Pocket" style crust.
These wonderful secret recipes of Tracy's provide companion calorie extensions to several of the rattler recipes. Each is specifically designed to complement the rattler recipe on the page it appears with.
And of course, add a veggie and/or big salad, a rich dessert, and chase with a "Snakebite" cocktail -- and no one will complain if the snake parts don't quite reach.
Rattlesnake Cooking Made Easy
My friends, Tracy Painter and Lee Landers, have developed a cookbook with 101+ rattlesnake recipes (plus cleaning & cooking instructions) for turning RATTLER MEAT into a mouth-watering gourmet treat your friends and family (or customers!) WON'T BELIEVE!
Are you the "accidental" or deliberate owner of a freshly bagged (or frozen) rattlesnake carcass?
Or maybe you're a restaurant owner, community festival or roundup coordinator... or just planning an "outside-the-box" special occasion meal ... with rattler ON the menu! Yes?
Well, you might now be the owner of a very big set of problems. For example, if you currently find an entire snake in your possession:
**How do you prevent accidents to pets or kids in your household, before and after cleaning and skinning?
**How do you clean your rattlesnake SAFELY?
**Can you freeze a snake, and clean it later?
**What can you do to prevent the meat from drying out?
**Can you debone the carcass for soups and salads?
**How do you SKIN the rattler, in a way that preserves the integrity of the valuable snakeskin? (So you can make rattler-crafts of your own, or sell for cash to some other person for homemade rattlesnake crafts?)
AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, HOW DO YOU COOK A RATTLESNAKE IN A WAY, AND WITH A GREAT RECIPE, THAT ADDS TO YOUR CULINARY REPUTATION?
A small sampling of the recipes in Tracy's Book, RATTLESNAKE COOKING MADE EASY:
Baked Rattlesnake in Cream Sauce
Rattlesnake-Mushroom Pot Pie
Rattlesnake Roll Ups
Rattlesnake Skillet Chili
Rattlesnake Fried Rice
Old Fashioned Rattlesnake Pizza
Whiskey BBQ Rattler
Rattlesnake Stuffed Mushrooms
Sweet & Sour Pickled Rattlesnake ...
... And so much more than we can list here!