Take one dead badger, head and all, dust with flour and herbs, season and braise for five hours — that’s the recipe for a perfect stew, according to British roadkill eater Arthur Boyt.
From dogs and cats to polecats and mice, Boyt insists there is nothing tastier than scooping up a dead animal from the roadside and taking it back to his remote home in Cornwall, southwest England, to skin, gut and cook.
Boyt, 74, a nature obsessive whose house is dotted with animal skulls and taxidermy, has been eating roadkill since the 1960s and thinks more people should do the same.
The retired researcher’s favourite dish is dog — he has eaten two lurchers and a labrador which were hit by cars. He insists he tried to find the owners before eating them.
Boyt compares the “smooth, round, sweet” flavour of dog meat to lamb, adding: “I’d drink a red wine with it — possibly a Chianti.”
Dog may be his special treat but the chest freezer in his outhouse filled with everything from buzzards to slowworms shows his eclectic tastes.
He also has no qualms about eating rotting meat, claiming to have cooked badgers which had been dead for two weeks and picking off maggots and ticks while preparing meat for the pot.
‘Salivary glands, mmm!’
Eating wild animals found dead in the road is usually legal for individuals in England as long as the animals have been run over accidentally, not deliberately.
Boyt says he only eats animals which were hit mistakenly, finding their remains himself or receiving tip-offs from neighbours around Bodmin Moor, a dramatic wilderness reputedly haunted by a phantom wildcat.
Breaking off from putting the finishing touches to the badger stew, Boyt explains that he only cooks roadkill when his wife, a vegetarian, goes out.
This evening, he has invited an acquaintance to share the meal — 17-year-old Daniel Greenaway, who is looking forward to his first taste of roadkill.
Boyt lifts the lid off the heavy stew pot and ladles out the badger’s head for himself, serving his companion some less recognisable body parts.
He garnishes the stew with raw spinach and opens a bottle of Rioja to go with the meal.
Greenaway tucks in nervously before declaring that the food “ain’t bad”.
Meanwhile, Boyt delights both in the flavour and in chomping through cuts not usually noted as delicacies.