Gopher Hot Wings

Gopher Fishing, Hot Wings, Bozeman

Gopher Hot Wings

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Joe King

They're finger-lickin' good. 

Gopher fishing is a Montana rite of passage, as essential to our heritage as gold and silver—in fact, rodentia picantur was a runner-up for our state motto. Many a parent-child tandem has celebrated that first hookset the same way for generations—by quartering the critters, throwing them in a fryer, and drowning them in hot sauce. While every family has its own secret recipe, I’m happy to share ours with y’all. Here’s how we make gopher hot wings in the fabled King kitchen.

Ingredients (serves 4)
5 gophers, furred and quartered
1 pound butter
1 bottle hot sauce of your choice
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
Peanut oil
1 can of pale ale (our secret) 

Directions
After you’ve netted about a half-dozen gophers (review techniques at fish4gophers.com), get the fur off as fast as you can, making sure to leave the skin undisturbed—that’ll crisp up nicely in the fryer. The tiny rodents spoil quickly under the warm spring sun, so have some shade nearby and pop ‘em in a cooler quick. Once at home, remove the quarters, being careful to separate the legs and arms at the joints cleanly. Mix the salt, pepper, and flour, and dusk the gopher parts in a thin coating before tossing them in a fryer (or Dutch oven) with your oil at 400 degrees. Fry for five minutes or until golden brown. 

Simultaneously, melt butter and mix in hot sauce. Once parts are done frying, transfer to butter-mix and toss. Serve hot while drinking cold pale ale. If you’ve got enough gophers, invite the neighbors over for a meal they won’t soon forget. Just don’t tell ‘em what it is until they’re done; some folks get squeamish about eatin’ rodents, especially those sally-ass out-of-staters.

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