There’s a wacky tradition for some wacky folks on Feb-you-ary second. It has something to do with a critter named Punks-ah-whatever-you-want-to-call-‘im the prairie hog. “Ground” hog, if you’re hungry. Well, we in Great Salt Lake City are hungry! That’s why out west we have a tradition similar to the one out east but more fun and it ends in food. Who doesn’t love a tradition that ends in food?
Our tradition is similar in that it involves animals. They have their Punks-ah-hoggy and we have our Salty Stewart.
Salty Stewart is the name we give to the unlucky groundhog in the groundhog family who pokes his head up first sign of Spring. Maybe he sees his shadow, and maybe he doesn’t, nobody’s ever really talked to a groundhog before. The point of the tradition isn’t to go talking to critters. The point is to celebrate Springtime with a good hearty mess of pottage. After all winter waiting for the snow to melt and chewing on dried up old carrots out of the cellar, it’s nice to get a decent meal.
The whole reason we name the groundhog Salty Stew is because it isn’t just a fancy-pants title—it’s also how you find him on the menu. Salty Stew is our hero, our mascot, and our dinner.
Should you want to join the festivities, here’s how to prepare:
2 lbs. ground groundhog
2 lbs. kielbasa, sliced
2 lbs. black beans, cooked
2 lbs. carrots, sliced
1 lb. peas
1 lb. tomatoes, diced
4 medium potatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cups water
2 tsp. inland sea salt
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. black pepper
Brown meat with garlic and onions. Drain off the grease and transfer to a large pot.
Add beans, carrots, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, and water. Stir. While stirring, add salt, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper.
Cook on medium/low for at least one hour.
If you can’t seem to catch you a groundhog, and your local market doesn’t carry any, substitute the meat of your choice.