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Trash-can raiders make tasty meal

Associated Press

ROCKVILLE, Minn. -- It's the other dark meat.

While their neighbors are salivating over pork chops and venison, Rudy and Sharon Barlow say nothing can beat a marinated raccoon meal.

"I love raccoon!" said Sharon Barlow, licking her fingers. "When Rudy first told me he ate it, I was shocked. I mean, that's a wild animal. But it smelled so good that I had to try it, and it tastes real good too."

Rudy Barlow, 64, a retired Vietnam veteran, said he first sampled raccoon as a 6-year-old living in Chicago. "My father Roosevelt loved them, and he'd buy it from people who would trap them and set it on our dinner table. I enjoyed it the first time I tried it."

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports the raccoon season is open continuously because there's so many of them.

Barlow hasn't had any luck trapping raccoons in central Minnesota so he buys them from other trappers.

"You could make pets of them if you want," Barlow said. "But they taste too good for me to do that."

Cooking raccoon is a slow process. The meat can be boiled, grilled or roasted in a stove. The first step, of course, is to peel the skin off.

A lot of people carve out a bulk of the fat in the carcass. Barlow prefers the fat in his meal because it's more juicy.

He soaks the prepared racoon in water for an entire day.

Following that, he'll inject the raccoon with a variety of juices and sauces before laying it atop a giant pot arrayed with red peppers, jalapenos, large onions, celery, asparagus, lettuce, carrots and whatever.

After two hours in the stove, the raccoon is ready to be eaten. Barlow not only eats the meat from the legs and ribs, he also indulges in the brain and eyes. He eats practically everything except the feet and fangs.

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"It tastes too good to waste," Barlow said.

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