How to cook muskrat

By Joel Thurtell

Want to try rat?

I mean muskrat.

I know, sounds bad.

Here’s something to allay your squeamishness.

It’s not really rat.

“Muskrat” comes from an Algonquian Indian word something like “musquash,” according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

That “rat” suffix in English doesn’t really mean rat, as in those nasty, ugly creatures that spread bubonic plague.

Feel better?

Ready to cook?

Here’s a recipe for sautéed muskrat straight from chef Johnny Kolakowski’s cook book, “Cookin’ Wild with Johnny.” (Metro Media Associates, Clarkston, Mich., 1999)


1 muskrat

Lots of water

1 cup salt

More water

6 bay leaves

1 large can stewed tomatoes

1 can tomato juice

1 large onion

1 clove garlic

Flour to thicken

1/4 tsp. soy sauce

2-3 Tbs. Butter

1/2 garlic clove

2 ounces Liebfraumilch, white wine or beer

Kolakowski calls for one rat per person.

Skin the rat. Take off all fat, using a knife and your thumb.

Spread hind legs. Musk sacks are on the thighs running from base of tail to knee. Remove musk sacks.

Bring 2-3 gallons water to a boil. Add 1 cup salt. Add rat.

Bring back to a boil. Remove rat. Put 2-3 more gallons cold water in pot. Dip rat in cold water. Take out. Using thumbs, push away fat and blood.

Put 2-3 gallons water in pot. Add bay leaves. Bring to boil.

Put rat under water. Remove rat when water boils.

In a second pot, put 2 quarts water, tomatoes, tomato juice, onion and garlic. Bring to boil. Put rat in and boil.

Legs connected to spine on backside will crack. That means rat is done.

Strain sauce from last boiling. Put some sauce in pan, bring to boil. Add flour for gravy. Set aside, keep warm.

Heat saute pan, add soy sauce and 2-3 tablespoons butter.

Put rat in pan, add garlic and Liebfraumilch. Brown rat on both sides. Serve with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut and gravy.

Drop me a line at joelthurtell(at)

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