Road kill: The ultimate budget meal

Apr 1, 2019

Although food prices here in Ecuador are significantly lower than in many other countries, if you are on a tight budget, meat can still be a luxury item.  One can always become a vegan, but come on, let’s be serious here.

But there is an alternative. . . .

We formerly lived in a very rural part of Oregon, where we often saw, and occasionally caused, dead deer on the road, victims of the vehicular carnage that takes so many wild animals every year.  It is a shame to waste this valuable protein resource. If nothing else, stop and cut the backstraps off.

If the remains smell a little off, it’s best to leave it. Animals on the pavement in the hot sun will go bad in just a few hours.

The key to preparing roadkill for the dinner table is to collect it while it’s fresh. Dog, by the way, is a staple in many diets around the world.

Properly cooked, venison is delicious, and if you are lucky enough to come across an elk, moose or a cow, this will feed the entire family for many months. Several ground squirrels could make a hearty meal, though something that small would probably be squished beyond usefulness, except maybe in a stew pot.

Now, road kill recovery does take a bit of preparation and labor on your part. You may want to carry a sharp knife or pistol in your car, in case the animal is merely injured. Put it out of its misery. It’s the humane thing to do.

You then need to at least gut and behead it at the side of the road, so you don’t have to dispose of a pile of offal at home. If you’re into liver, tripe, or other organ meats, now’s your chance to nab those tidbits.

For larger animals, you will probably need to quarter the carcass, if only to allow you to move it and fit it into your trunk. Ideally, a cooler in your car would be helpful, to keep the upholstery from getting all bloody. Buy ice at the first gas station you come to.

You should skin the animal as soon as possible, but this may be too awkward to do at the roadside. Final butchering and freezer wrapping need to be done at home.

For practical purposes, virtually any animal is edible, if care is taken to prepare and cook it properly. Snake meat (tastes like chicken) is excellent, and usually only a tire-width of the snake is squished, with the rest recoverable.

Possums, porcupines, squirrels and coyotes all can go into the pot. That being said, I admit that I might have trouble eating the south end of a north-bound skunk, unless I was really, really hungry.

Though we have tasted cuy, we are not familiar with llama or alpaca, but assume that all herbivores would be tasty if they are freshly killed.

Recipes can be found on line for most game meats, though I have yet to find one for flat cat, or sail cats, as they are called by road crews who occasionally use them as Frisbees.

Some recovery efforts are best done at night. Butchering a cow or other domestic animal, particularly a pet, might bring the wrath of the owner on you, even if you did not cause the death of the animal. In Oregon counties that are designated “open range”, cattle have the right of way. Thus, if you have the misfortune of hitting a Black Angus cow standing in the roadway in the middle of the night, you just bought it. To avoid the cost, cut it up quickly and get the hell out of there.

Although eating dog meat is perfectly normal in some societies, most families would frown on you cutting Fido up in front of their house. And the kids would scream and cause a fuss. Better to bypass that one.

On occasion, you may have to fight off vultures, coyotes, and other scavengers. Don’t try to scare off a bear. He will eat your face.

This is what we used to do back in the U.S., and we see no reason why these procedures could not be applied in Ecuador.

We highly recommend you take advantage of this resource.

Summary: Some of what we write here is the absolute truth. The ingredients are appearing at a highway near you. Open 24-7. Very inexpensive, though a few tools may be needed.

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