Several years ago I had roasted coyote leg. It was quite good tasting, but very stiff and chewy. In the interim Judy gave me a sous vide cooker for Christmas which has opened up a whole new avenue of cooking for me. So when the opportunity arose to try some more coyote leg, I jumped at the chance. The question in my mind was whether cooking the leg sous vide would reduce the toughness of the meat.
|Coyote leg (the thigh)|
|The thickest end of the thigh.|
I fried the leg in butter and oil to give the outside a nice fried texture and taste.
After the frying, I slathered some butter on the outside and cut up some of my favorite sausage to go into the sous vide packet, Southside Market jalapeno cheddar sausage (we discovered it in Elgin, Texas three years ago). I wanted the sausage to provide some fat for the extremely lean coyote leg. In addition, I added salt and pepper, thyme and rosemary.
|Sausage slices surround the coyote leg in the sous vide packet.|
The question that always runs through my mind with the sous vide is what temperature to cook it at and how long to cook it for. Cooking for really long times makes the meat mushy, but it does retain its moisture. I wanted to avoid making it mushy, so I set the temperature to 57 degrees centigrade and cooked it for five hours and 40 minutes.
I invited my friend Jerry over for dinner and when he arrived he gave me some home laid chicken eggs from the chickens he keeps in his back yard.
I opened up the plastic pouch and started to cut up the coyote leg and it was very, very, very tough and stringy. Things were not looking good. I immediately regretted my decision not to cook it substantially longer. The taste was good, but it was probably the toughest and stringiest meat I've ever tasted, except perhaps some Scottish mountain hare.
|Cooked coyote leg with sausage slices.|
|Coyote meat to the right, sausage slices to the left.|
Several bites I chewed and chewed and chewed, and ended up spitting out the chewed up meat wad into the garbage. It did not break-down. Jerry politely ate several pies, spit some of his own meat-wad into a napkin and let the remainder of the meat he'd taken on his plate. He asked if he could take it home to his dog.
After I'd given up on this disaster, I asked him to take all of the remaining meat to his dog. As he left, he said with a smile on his face, "can I have my eggs back?" Later, he called me to report he'd given some of the meat to his dog. His dog chewed, and chewed and chewed the meat, and eventually spit it out. It didn't look any different than when the dog first started. I laughed so hard I almost cried.
I learned a lesson. The sous vide does break down the meat to some extent, particularly when cooked for long periods of time, but there are some meats than need to be brined. Coyote is obviously one of them.