When it comes to barbequing, I’m a bit of a self-taught (or rather, YouTube-trained) wannabe pit master. I love spending time in my backyard throwing prime cuts on my offset smoker or pellet grill whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Over the past two years, my backyard smokers have cooked everything from spare ribs, Boston butts, beef brisket, and an assortment of ribeye steaks. However, lately, I’ve found myself becoming somewhat bored with some of the old favorites and am now ready to take on some new challenges. Here are five exotic meats that you can try out this summer if you too are feeling the need for something new:

#1 - Wild Boar

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The first item on our list is actually classified as an invasive species in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wild boar are ‘feral swine’ and tend to damage crops and hurt other wildlife. So, in essence, when you decide to hunt or trap a wild boar for your next big barbecue, you’re actually doing a service to the ecosystem. I call that a win-win.

The only problem with harvesting wild boar is that there doesn’t seem to be a heavy population of the animal in the Hoosier State. But you can have some mailed directly to your door from Broken Arrow Ranch, which seems to specialize in not-so-ordinary cuts of meat. It looks like I have a bit of grocery shopping to do.

#2 - Ostrich

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You might think ostrich tastes like chicken but, apparently, you would be wrong. Modern Farmer says this seven-foot bird tastes more like steak, with much has less fat and more iron. In fact, ostrich’s filets seem to have the same color and texture as a filet mignon.

Unlike wild boar, one won’t have to travel too far to get this unique cuisine, with ostrich ranches encompassing pastureland in Indiana and neighboring states. With the help of the internet, you can also check out different ostrich cuts online.

#3 - Iguana

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I’m usually open to trying just about anything, but this next exotic meat on our list would certainly be difficult to present to my family for a Saturday dinner.

Iguana may not be the most popular barbeque item in the United States, but other places like Mexico, Central, and South America seem to like this spikey lizard thing using them in burritos, tacos, and gumbo. Additionally, the animal is also low in fat and high in protein.

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USA Today reported in 2020 that many iguanas were sold after they feel from trees following a cold snap in South Florida, sparking a new trend in the U.S. This is another potential barbeque item for backyard pit masters, but it is also something you will likely have to order online. The only iguanas that I know of in the area are at the Evansville Zoo, where it is unlikely you will be able to place a to-go order.

#4 - Whole Alligator

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This is a trend I’ve actually been seeing more in the barbeque community on Facebook and beyond. People will smoke a smaller, whole-skinned alligator and, for some reason, leave the head on, like a whole hog. To each their own.

As a big fan of the show Swamp People, it’s no mystery that alligator is a popular type of cuisine in Louisiana and many other southern states. The first time I tried alligator, however, was right here in Evansville at Catfish Willy’s. Granted, they were small pieces fried over cheesy fries, but it was certainly something I would try again.

#5 - Raccoon?


There is likely no shortage of raccoons in the area, but I certainly don’t recommend the highway-to-table approach when you run across some road kill on your way home from work. Real Tree claims that grilled raccoon is reminiscent of pulled pork, but I honestly can’t confirm that. The website also notes that racoon coinsurers prefer a young raccoon, around 5 to 7 pounds live weight. Interested in dabbling in some raccoon cooking? Here is a recipe from Real Tree for Maple-Bourbon Glazed Raccoon:

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons Traeger Coffee Rub
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped

Cooking Instructions

<p>Make the sauce. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until softened. Add the syrup, the bourbon, and the coffee rub. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens.</p><p>Rub the raccoon all over with the BBQ rub.</p><p>Grill at degrees for 90 minutes. Baste with maple bourbon sauce every 15 minutes. Flip halfway through cooking time.</p>

It’s safe to say some of these options are a little more “out there” than others but if you’re looking for something different to spice up your next backyard event, then go for it. That said, you might leave off the invitations just what exactly you’re serving. Everyone likes to be surprised, right?

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