The male possum (buck) is much larger than the female (doe), a marsupial that raises its young in a pouch much like the kangaroo. Possums are nocturnal omnivores eating a wide variety of vegetation, grass, insects and meat.
As with all game, the best meat is from a young animal – avoid lactating does, as they are often stressed and in poor physical condition. Possum meat is more than acceptable; its reputation suffers through its designation as a pest and its pungent smell.
When skinning and butchering a possum, great care must be taken to remove the scent glands at the base of the tail without cutting them. These are brown in colour and the size of a jellybean. Check the liver: it should be an even, healthy colour, as should the gut. If you have any doubts discard the animal. Generally a possum is butchered into seven pieces: legs, back-straps and the carcass for stock. The legs need to be cut all the way around the base of the muscle, then folded over and dislocated from the joint. To remove the backstrap, run a sharp knife down beside the spine to the hip joint then out. Simply grab the end of the back-strap and it will easily peel straight off the rib cage. A young tender possum is now ready to cook, but if you are not so keen on the gamey taste you can remove the bones and soak the meat in a pot of salty water (1 cup of salt) overnight to blanch. Wash thoroughly in fresh cold water and then simmer for two hours until a fork can pierce the meat. It can now be fried as you would chicken or portioned up for a casserole or a stir-fry.


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