Opossums are slow, genial marsupials who like to hang by their tails and are famous for avoiding confrontations by playing dead. For centuries they have been a traditional component of Southern cuisine. Old editions of "The Joy of Cooking" recommend that you "trap the possum and feed it milk and cereals for ten days before killing." Some gourmets insist possums tastes like wild boar, but the meat is hard to find in stores. Before you enjoy this delight you are probably going to have to kill, skin and gut a possum yourself.
Put on rubber gloves. Cut an incision completely around one rear ankle or hock with a very sharp, short knife. Pull the fur away from the incision.
Tie heavy twine tightly around the incision and hang the animal upside down from a tree branch, tripod or crossbeam. Deeply cut the possum's throat near the point of its jaw, step back and allow the blood to drain.
Untie the possum. Tie the twine around the possum's neck and re-hang the animal right-side up from the tree branch, tripod or crossbeam. Cut off the tail.
Incise the possum completely around the uncut rear ankle and around both wrists. Cut an incision completely around the animal's head just below the heavy twine. Cut another incision from the twine to the bottom of the animal's breastbone.
Insert your fingers into the chest incision and pull the hide off the possum. Attempt to pull off the hide in one piece. Additional cuts may be necessary. Do not puncture the animal.
Cut off all four paws with the knife. Cut a shallow incision from the breastbone to the anus. Do not puncture the intestines.
Cut an incision completely around the anus. Put your hands in the abdominal cavity and completely remove the stomach, intestines, kidneys, bladder and other abdominal organs.
Put your hands under the sternum and pull out the lungs and heart.
Dig a hole at least 18 inches deep with a shovel. Throw the internal organs, hands, feet, tail and hide in the hole.
Decapitate the possum by cutting with a sharp knife through the upper spine, just below the heavy twine. Untie the twine from the tree branch, tripod or crossbeam. Throw the head and the twine in the hole.
Fill the hole with dirt using the shovel. Rinse the possum inside and out with running water. Inspect the abdominal cavity for any organs you might have missed.
Add 1/2 cup salt and 5 tbsp. baking soda to a 5-gallon pot. Fill the pot with water to the half-way point. Submerge the possum in the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency: Proper Field Dressing and Handling of Wild Game and Fish
- Food University: Opossum
- Survival Primer; Wild Game From Field to Table; Jeffrey J. Jackson, et al; September 2003
- "Joy Of Cooking"; Irma S. Rombauer, et al.; June, 1962
- Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images