Oops. This coulmn is a day late and I apologize for that. I was extremely busy yesterday, making dip and I
thought I’d pay off my bookie before the Super Blow, just to make things easier. Again, I apologize.
During the early nineteenth century a bunch of bored villagers with the winter blahs in Pennsylvania
decided to come up with a festival to celebrate the imminent arrival of spring.
They originally tabbed a black bear to be the honored guest, and they gathered around the opening to
the bear’s cave to see if he would see his shadow. But the bear, hungry and cranky after a long winter’s
slumber would emerge from his den and become frightened and confused. The majestic beast would
then chase the townspeople and eat any of them he could catch. This tradition only lasted a few years
before the villagers decided to regroup and opted for the more timid groundhog instead to be the
spokesperson for this annual celebration.
Now the world watches and waits for the giant rodent to appear onFebruary 2 and if he sees his shadow
there is six more weeks of winter. Actually, if you do the math Spring officially arrives on March 20, so give
or take a few days; it’s going to happen anyway.
Planning a menu to celebrate Groundhog Day is a little easier than you may think.
This year I’ve opted to throw in a little Caribbean influence to spice things up.
There is a tiny little-known island in the South Caribbean called Isla de Paradiso y Casa de Putas,
which literally means Island of Excellent Whorehouses. I think pirates use to hang out there. I know I
have. Anyway, every year on February 2 all the islanders gather on top of the volcano and pay tribute
to Guillermo el Groundhog. They dance around a bon-fire and wait for the furry creature to emerge
from his cave and see if he is afraid of his shadow. After the ceremonies they get high and feast on
groundhog tacos with a side of fried plantains and pineapples.
The tacos are called Barbacoa, not to be confused with the Jane Fonda picture, “Barbarella”. She was
hot in that movie. Anyway, Barbacoa is Caribbean comfort food so this year let’s go with groundhog
cheeks tacos. As you know, when cooking I like to use the whole animal, from cheeks to butt cheeks.
Everybody knows that in any animal or fish, thecheek meat is the tastiest. Cheeks in the groundhog are
extremely fatty, so ask your butcher to trim as much fat off as possible when purchasing your
That’s it, it’s that simple, so get out the old crock-pot and get to work before spring gets here.
Groundhog Cheeks Barbacoas
2-3 Lbs. Groundhog Cheek Meat
1 Bunch Cilantro, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Smashed
1 Onion, Chopped
1 Tbs. Allspice
Salt/Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Cups Water
In the food processor combine 1 cup of water with the cilantro, garlic and onion. Season. Marinate the
cheeks in the mixture for 1 hour.
Throw everything in the crock-pot, add the rest of the water and set on low. Cook for 8-10 hours.
Load up your tacos with the meat and top with tomatoes, chopped onions, jalapenos, shredded cheese,
sliced avocado and serve.
Happy Groundhog Day everybody.