Recipe contributed by Editor in Chief J. Townsend.
Here is a recipe that was created in Harvesting Nature’s infancy. It brings back so many memories from a time when Justin had little exposure to rattlesnakes. That has now changed, but the enjoyment of eating them has not. Rattlesnake sightings have been at an all time high this year, so we thought we would share this again. Enjoy!
This recipe has a special place in my heart. That is mostly because I personally shot this rattle snake as it was making an attempt to attack me. It reiterates the “eat or be eaten” phrase. I was out dove hunting in the mountains near San Diego. I spent the day wandering about various clearings, gazing into the sky, looking for doves, and not really paying attention to the ground where I was walking. I know, rookie mistake. Because it is prime time for rattlesnakes here in Southern California and I should have known better.
After we visited a couple of properties without incident, we then decide to check out one last spot before we headed home for the day. I noticed some birds using a ridge line as cover and decided we should cut across a small hill to reach the area. As we began to climb up the hill and I had one of the most odd feelings I have ever had. Do you know when you feel like something is going to definitely happen? Something you didn’t predict but it hits you like a 20lbs mallet to the side of the head saying, “this is going to happen.” I had my moment as I looked to the ground cover and thought, “This would be a great place to live if I were a rattlesnake. I should probably keep and eye out.” I had taken no more than two steps as I crossed over the crest of the hill when I saw it. Our eyes met and we both startled one another.
We both flinched. I jumped back in the air as I raised my shotgun to the shooting position. The snake zig-zagged back into an attack position, its rattler buzzing frantically. The snake made a dash towards the right side of me. Honestly, I do not know if the snake was maneuvering for a better attack position or if it was simply attempting to escape. I was not going to take any chances. I shot… I didn’t only shoot once, I emptied my gun. My three shot barrage landed one round in the middle of the snake. I saw it curl up, moving side to side in a ball. I could not tell if it was dead or alive. My hunting partner had no idea what had just happened and I took a minute to fill him in and he was astounded by what had just occurred.
After a few moments, the snake’s movement ceased. I could not see the head to make a confirmed kill shot so I stretched out the snake with the barrel of my shotgun. All the emotions set in when I saw the length. The snake easily totaled in length of almost four feet. I removed the head and buried it as a safety precaution. I examined the rattle which was nine rattles in length. A decent sized snake of good age. The day of dove hunting ended abruptly.
I cleaned the snake and packed it on ice for the trip home. After all, I was raised not to waste game.
After a lengthy discussion with my wife about eating the snake, she decided not to kiss me if I chose to eat it. Putting all that aside in the name of adventure, exploration and my morals, I decided to make a soup. This soup is based off of traditional turtle soup but with the snake instead. This recipe is the result. For those wondering, my wife did kiss me after I ate the soup… it just took a couple of days.
- 1 rattlesnake skinned and cleaned
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Combine the mixture in a gallon zip-lock bag and marinade overnight.
- The next day, bring 4 cups of water and ¼ cup of lemon juice to a boil
- Add the snake and the marinade, reduce heat and simmer for I hour
- Remove the meat and let cool
- With a fork, strip the meat from the bones. Be careful of the rib bones, the will easily separate from the spine and can be a choking hazard. Pick through all the meat to find any bones.
- Chill meat until the soup is prepared.
- ½ white onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp Cajun seasonings
- 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups (24 oz) beef stock
- In a small pot, add the diced onion, chopped garlic, olive oil, salt, thyme, Cajun seasoning, and bay leaf.
- On medium heat, cook the mixture until the onions become clear.
- Add the tomato sauce and beef stock to the pot and reduce by half (about 15-20 minutes)
- Strain the mixture into another pot. Discarding everything but the soup
- Add the snake and simmer for 30 minutes
- Serve and Enjoy