Meathenge’s Cajun Chinch Stew

I’d never had Chinch meat, always heard about it. It wasn’t until my brother inlaw Meathead found some at a local market in the freezer section that we’d even consider it. It was decided to meet up this last Friday night and see what all the hubub is about.
Oh stop it, it’s just like squirrel or ‘possum. Let’s learn to love our furry little chinchilla for more than just the hide. Use it all, I say. Please come and join our adventure.

Let’s start with the recipe.

2 – 3 pounds good chinch meat
olive oil – for browning
1 quart good chicken broff
1 large onion – small dice
6 large garlic cloves – smooshed – cut
1 teaspoonful white pepper dust
1 teaspoonful ground cumin
1 teaspoonful oregano
2 teaspoonful good Cajun seasoning (for stew)
1 teaspoonful good Cajun seasoning (for milk marinade)
2 or 3 mild green chiles – fresh
1 large tomato
2 stalks celery
2 hot chile peppers – fresh (I used jalapeno)
1 teaspoonful of cornstarch
file powder as condiment.

Get your chinch in the milk marinade first off (just enough to barely cover). Add 1 teaspoonful Cajun seasoning. Let sit on counter while you prepare yer meez.

Roast chile peppers over fire, set in paper bag for 10 minutes. Scrape blackened skin off, no water! The water rinses flavors away.
Dice everything up small. This stew doesn’t take long to cook. The smaller the pieces, the faster they cook. I guess you could say, “Chinch cooks in a pinch!” Sorry, I owe you a dollar for that one.
In a good sized heavy stew pot (large enough to hold all ingredients) brown your meat in olive oil. Discard marinade, foo.

It browns right up, ain’t it pretty? Kinda surprised at the clean mellowness of the meat. It isn’t gamey and it slices like pork does. The smells wafting from the stew pot are getting quite nice! Kinda hard to describe well, this time.
Once the meat is browned, remove and let drain a bit. Add onions, celery and chile to saute for 7 minutes. At this point, if the oil level is too high, just drain and then add everything all at once. Stir and heat ingredients. Add chicken broth. I think I actually added another cup more than what I listed in the recipe.
Simmer on stove for 1 hour with lid loose. If it doesn’t cook down enough, add a teaspoon of cornstarch to cold water, then add to stew. This will thicken it a bit and make nice.

Serve over rice, sprinkle with file.
Meathead and I just couldn’t resist. While the stew was simmering, we deep fried some chinch cubes that we’d coated in Dixie Fry and cornmeal. So, while we were stirring stew, we ate Chinch Poppers!

Okay, I know you’re skeptical. But I’m telling you, it turned out great. Sure the first couple of bites were scary to say the least, but they disappeared one by one. After the hour was up, it was time for the stew. Slowly we turned, inch by inch … we swallowed our chinch! *-rim shot-*
The broth was absolutely 3 dimensional and about as Cajunny as you could ask for. The meat was tender, like pork chop tender. We were both impressed. Mostly because we were sure as heck after making both dishes we’d be eating at Pup Hut. Nope, we ate our fill, ear to ear smiles. I, for one, am sold.
ps – April Fools !!! But it looks as though ya’ll didn’t take the bait.
You’re right, it wasn’t Chinchilla meat, sorry about that. It was Chef Denny’s alligator meat.

While this was clearly and Aprill Fool’s joke, the recipe and outcome stands. The alligator was great and would do it again. The only thing I would do differently would be to trim the meat better. It can get parts that are chewy and kinda marine tasting. Other than that? Total success.

On a more personal note, I’d like to say that I totally didn’t screw up the deep frying of the alligator. If you’ve been a reader for the last few years or so, you know I’ve screwed up every deep frying event, if not all of them. I used a wok this time and it delivered me a solid victory. Yes, I’m taking notes.
I win!

19 thoughts on “Meathenge’s Cajun Chinch Stew

  1. huh. who’da thought them little critters could yield such large hunks o’meat. dang.

  2. Damn! That shore looks gooood! I could go fer wraslin’ up sum o’ dem! Where do we go, Peru?
    Was this dish really a form of abstaining from meat on Friday because of some freaky Catholic thing? There is precedent for such rodential eating. I’ve heard that in Venezuela they have officially declared capybara to be alright to eat like fish during meat restricted times, due to it’s aquatic nature. Mmmm, betcha that’s some tasty rodent! Think about the cubes you could dredge up from one of those babies!
    So, did I miss chinch leftovers by not coming to the market yesterday?

  3. I was quite surprised at the texture and flavor such an animal would present. Not my first time tasting (I visited a farm where they’re raised a few years back) it but I wasn’t sure if my fond thoughts of it were due to my hunger or the meat itself.
    Capybara? That reminds me of Muskrat. Had that at a friends house. His mother made it from a Southern recipe her Acadian parents handed down to her. Very dark, rich meat on those little babies.

  4. Uhhh — ummm — I still can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of eating chinchillas, but your photos make it look very appealing….I have a couple of questions. You say to use “good chinch meat” and I am wondering how you know when it is or isn’t? (It was a relief that you didn’t show skinning directions and had it all ready to fix.) And then, who are the dealers? Are they locally sourced (Bay Area foodies need to know.)….I agree that all of everything should be used. My brother used to talk about snout sandwiches sold at the market in Baltimore. But I think I want someone else to do most of that eating-it-all!…..Never saw file used as a garnish; I’ve always used it as a thickener. Does it taste of more than dust?

  5. PS To Monkey Wrangler: I suspect nutria (eaten with enthusiasm in Louisiana) meets with canonical apprpoval since it is also an aquatic mammal.

  6. Hey Kud,
    I think that File thing has gone off the tracks too many times. I use Chuck Taggart’s Gumbo Pages for my Cajun refrences. He uses File as a condiment. If you use it as a thickener, it gets “ropey” right quick. Personally, I think there are other ways to thicken a liquid. Don’t use the file for that. It’s a condiment. I love it as such.
    As far as using “good chinch meat”, that’s my trip. In real world usage, we have no control and out here on the west coast, it could be anything.
    I didn’t mention exactly where he got it because I didn’t want to offer any slander to any one racial group. My trip again, sorry about that.

  7. The good stuff in question is purchased locally and right under a Bay area foodies nose. I picked up two packs right behind me here at the Pacific East Mall. It was “bone in” but one pack was mostly boneless. Which was great for cubing.
    And yes, I was grateful as well that we didn’t need to dress it out ourselves. I remember watch my Uncle Ralph and his brother Pud skinning squirells at the dinner table. Looked like pulling a sock off at first but when they started plucking out all the shot I had to leave.

  8. APRIL FOOLS !!!
    I don’t think I fooled anyone though.
    Please reload the original post to view the very last notation. It wasn’t chinchilla meat, it was alligator.

  9. My take on it is this. Alligators will eat anything. They will most likely eat, if given the chance, a Chinchilla. For all I know that Alligator ate a Chinchilla, a Capybara, 4 or 5 Nutrias, a bunch of squirrels and countless drunken topless Girls Gone Wild. So by proxy I have too. Granted the legs were about 6 inches long… but by God! I’ll just say I ate Chinch Meat because nobody can prove I didn’t!
    Whatever that Alligator eats, I eats.
    Mmmmm… Girls Gone Wild.

  10. I don’t want to frighten you, but there’s some funky little dude staring down your food with the biggest, scariest eye I’ve ever seen. You may want to… uh… do some critter huntin’ in your kitchen.

  11. Hope I helped keep the story going! Think you began giving it away when it came to skinning squirrels at the table……..Now, gator — that’s something else. I had it cooked several ways at the Jazz and Heritage Festival. To prove we may be kinfolk — I likes it best fried…PS You’re right about using file carefully. I prefer okra in its place but if you really pay attention with that powder it works well.

  12. Pssst! Hey……..pssst! I’ve got a line on some of that capy. When are you and Meathead free in late april?
    And does your cajun book say anything about the specific nutritional content of say, nutria? There just has to be a connection there……

  13. I love it!
    I am rolling on the floor with amusement at everyone’s comments.
    I would no doubt perish in the jungle the first night, because the thought of eating alligator, crocodile, snake or any other “not on the menu” animal would make my desperate hunger disappear. And then, so would I!
    You are a champion for your adventure into meats, stranger than strange! Imagine, alligator meat is actually available! To EAT!
    Remember how we all freaked out about eating shark meat when it became available and before that, squid and octopus!
    Hi, come to my octopus farm and test taste some tender morsels!
    Biggles, Sweetie, you are a gem!