A favourite in the Southwestern United States, it’s said to taste a little like frogs legs. Experts advise boiling the meat off the bones before dipping in egg and covering in seasoned salt mix, flour and breadcrumbs. Deep fat fry and munch away.
A recipe from the “Great American Writer’s Cookbook” suggests slicing the snake, soaking it in vinegar with a hint of tobacco, then coating the meat in flour, salt, and pepper, and frying it in oil. Here we have a similar recipe, except that it calls for soaking the snake in buttermilk to tenderize the meat.
How Does Rattle Snake Taste?
Many compare it with chicken, some say it’s like alligator and campers in the Southwest, where it’s most often eaten, call it desert whitefish. In fact, rattlesnake tastes, at least when breaded and fried, like a sinewy, half-starved tilapia. Maybe that’s why it tends to be served in chilis and stews, where spices and peppers lend the illusion of flavor.
Not that there’s any consensus on how best to cook it. A collection of recipes from forest rangers suggests grilling over campfire coals or frying in a buttered skillet with onion or sage. Savenor’s Market in Boston, which shipped a western diamondback to me overnight when I couldn’t find one to buy in New York City, recommends parboiling.
But I recently followed Harry Crews’s recipe — printed in ”The Great American Writers’ Cookbook” (1981) — which calls for the snake to be cut into one-inch slices, soaked in vinegar, dashed with Tabasco, battered in flour, pepper and salt and fried. The flesh was bland and difficult to eat. A couple tiny bone splinters that I crunched into by accident tasted like chicken gizzard, a pleasing respite from the overall lack of taste, even though I couldn’t actually chew them up and swallow them.
Crews, a Georgia native, really focuses more on capturing a rattlesnake than on cooking it. He calls for driving the serpent from its nest on a cold day by blowing gasoline through a hose into a gopher hole and then toting the snake home in a burlap sack while trying to avoid being bitten. Maybe wild-caught snakes would be gamier, more like alligator or crawdad than tough, chewy fish. They would, at the very least, make for a much more exciting meal.
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