OK, kids, gather 'round here and we're gonna tell you a little tale.

See, back during the last big depression — old-timers and bookish sorts call it the Great Depression — people had to make do. So they wore burlap sacks, smoked cornhusks and ate whatever they could get their hands on. You ever read The Grapes of Wrath? There's a reason Steinbeck never published an accompanying cookbook.

We aren't wearing burlap just yet, mostly because our Chinese-made jeans haven't worn out. But we gotta fill our stomachs on a regular basis, and with the holidays coming, relatives will be showing up at the door with dirty fingernails and empty bellies. Can't really turn 'em away, because they're kin and such.

May we suggest armadillo? It was what's for dinner the last time the world plunged into economic anarchy. Back then they called 'em Texas Turkeys, on account of the armor-plated delicacies having migrated north into Texas decades earlier. Some wags even referred to the critters as Hoover Turkeys, a little jab at old Herbert, who was one of our shittier presidents. Serendipity! We got a shitty president right now, too!

Armadillo meat is not as greasy as raccoon. You can hunt them any time in Florida because the state classifies them as "unprotected mammals," just like rats. You've probably already killed a few, as they leap straight up when threatened, causing them to get ground into the undercarriages of passing cars. Armadillos are stupid and ugly, and you should eat them.

So try one of the (possibly) delicious recipes below. And if you do decide to do a little 'dillo this holiday season, remember this advice from the Wild Game Recipe Society (www.huntingsociety.org): "Always marinate armadillo in buttermilk for one day."

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Armadillo on the Half Shell

  • 2 pounds armadillo meat
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice

Season meat with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Rub with butter. Wrap in foil and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil; add more butter and brown. Yields six servings.

Armadillo in Cream Sauce

  • 1 armadillo, cleaned and cut into serving pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 1/4 cups light cream
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Mix wine, oil and garlic into a marinade and add armadillo. Marinate eight hours, turning meat. Remove armadillo and reserve marinade.

Melt butter in deep skillet and brown armadillo pieces and onion. Pour in marinade and bring to a boil. Stir in salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary, and cover and simmer until tender (about one hour). Place armadillo pieces on a warmed platter.

Mix cornstarch and cream. Return skillet to low heat and stir in this mixture a little at a time. Stir sauce until hot, but not boiling, and thickened. Pour sauce over armadillo. Serve with steamed rice.

Adapted from the Wild Game Recipe Society

Armadillo Meat Balls

  • 1 pound cooked armadillo meat, ground
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoon minced celery
  • 2 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • flour
  • oil

Mix together meat, egg, celery, onion, parsley, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Form into one-inch balls and refrigerate for one hour. In a skillet, heat 3/4 inch of oil. Roll the meat balls in the flour. Fry the meat balls until brown.

From Complete Fish & Game Cookbook by A.D. Livingston

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