Gallery: Down South: How to Cook a Raccoon

Despite what you might think, raccoon tastes pretty good when cleaned and cooked properly. Like dark-meat chicken or turkey, though it is greasier and more tender than either.

  • Step 1: Skin the Raccoon

    Drayton nails the raccoon’s feet to a board and lets the body hang down, which keeps the skin taut and easy to slice.

  • Skinning technique

    Skinning technique

    He runs his knife down the legs, first, then works his way down the body, cutting and pulling back the skin as he goes.

  • Step 2: Cleaning the 'Coon

    Cleaning the coon

    Once the skin is off the body, Drayton removes the head and neck, then opens the chest cavity and removes the internal organs.

  • Step 3: Removing Musk and Fat

    Removing musk and fat

    You must cut out the scent glands, which will ruin the meat if left on. Slice the front and hind legs in search of the glands, which look like little peas or marbles, and streaks of fat. Trim fat aggressively from all parts of the raccoon.

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  • Step 4: Portioning the Meat

    Portioning meat

    Wash and break down the body. Separate the legs, the halves of the ribcage, and the spine into separate cuts, taking care to trim fat and any scent glands off the spine. Remove the raccoon’s feet.

  • Step 5: Vinegar Soak

    Vinegar soak

    Submerge the meat in white vinegar. Drayton only does this for a few minutes. Others do it overnight, or longer, claiming that vinegar tenderizes and reduces the “gamy” flavor of the meat. It is especially important when cooking older raccoons.

  • Step 6: Seasoning the Meat

    Seasoning the meat

    Remove the meat from the vinegar. Drain. Season. Drayton sprinkles generous amounts of Montreal steak seasoning, creole seasoning, and crushed red pepper, as well as a few bay leaves and two chopped white onions. Some older recipes call for just red pepper, black pepper, and a little bit of onion.

  • Step 7: Pressure Cook

    Pressure cook

    Drop the seasoned meat into a pressure cooker or pot and cover with water. Add a splash of white vinegar. Cook for 30 minutes or until tender. “It shouldn’t be falling off the bone,” says George. “But you should be able to slide a fork in and out.”

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  • Don't Forget the Sweet Potato!

    Sweet potato

    Meanwhile, skin and chop a few sweet potatoes.

  • Ready to Bake

    Ready to bake

    When the raccoon is tender, remove it from the pressure cooker or pot.

  • Last Step

    Last step

    Place it on a baking tray, over the sweet potatoes. Season again—Drayton adds more red pepper and creole seasoning, and a splash of Kitchen Bouquet—then cover in foil and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees. By the time the meat is done cooking, it should fall off the bone.

  • Enjoy.