When you go to culinary school, you expect that you'll get all the basics in fast: chopping, sautéing, grilling, braising. From there, you might move onto advanced topics, like classical French sauces or Indian spices. But what comes after that? Sous vide cookery? The use of liquid nitrogen to make sake sorbet?
Try "beaver tail cooking" -- at least if you're among a certain group of culinary students at the International Culinary Center of New York.
That's right: the furry creatures are good for things beside being cute, building dams and providing pelts for retro hats. They also make for some interesting eating.
Jeff Butler, the instructor leading the lesson, which you can see in the video above, admits that he'd never before cooked a beaver tail. But he sees that it's a fatty, tough muscle, so he decides to crisp up the skin on the outside before finishing the cooking in the oven.
How does it taste? Tough, greasy and bland, according to the students in the class. One says he "wouldn't kill a beaver" to get a taste of the tail. But if you happen to be killing one anyway, why not be sustainable about it?
Indeed, beaver may actually be having something of an unlikely moment. You can also find a recipe for braised beaver tail in the new cookbook by Martin Picard, the chef of world-renowned Montreal restaurant Au Pied de Cochon.
CORRECTION: This post initially mentioned that beaver pelts are used to make shaving brushes. They are not. Badger pelts are.