One day I’m on the sofa and Sparky jumps up and I’m reading so I don’t really look at him, and he starts licking my ear which I’d be okay with only there’s something gritty on his nose and I turn and he licks me right on the mouth and his nose is right here and it’s … cat litter. Apparently he had been snacking in what later became known as the “stinky cheese shop.” After I finished sterilizing my face, I became curious as to why my otherwise discerning canine companion would relish something so revolting. I did some research and found that all around the world, dogs like cat poo. And yet no one makes healthy dog treats meant to replicate that poo-ness. Until now.
I wasn’t interested in coming up with a chewy bar-like substance but rather a biscuit, something that would keep, and be hard enough to provide some dentrificios benefits and no I don’t think that’s a word, but it works for me. Continuing my research, I decided the bulk of these stinky treats would be sweet potato, and rolled oats, both of which are considered quite good for hounds, the first for fiber and beta carotene, manganese, and vitamins C and B6, the second for soluble fiber which slows things down in the old GI tract which is good for regularity and nobody, and I mean nobody, wants an irregular dog.
I wanted the stink to be an add-on … icing if you will and I actually did try to make an icing out of natto, fermented soy beans, Durian, even lutafisk, what we found really really worked is: fish sauce. Used in many South Asian cuisines, this is essentially the liquidous remains of stacking fish, typically anchovies in a barrel with some salt and leaving them for a year or more. It’s pungent stuff and fabulous when added to various soups, stews and stir-fry recipes by the drop. Now I think the fish sauces from Thailand and Vietnam are the stinkiest on the planet and my favorite has a red boat on the bottle and no they don’t pay me to say that. Besides I don’t know how they’d feel about us saying it’s the closest thing in my pantry to cat poo.
When we put the sauce into the dough it tended to lose some of it’s pungency, so remove from the oven, turn the oven off then brush a couple teaspoons of the sauce right onto the treats while they’re still warm. You may want to do this by an open window.
- 1 small sweet potato, approximately 8 ounces
- 10 ounces old fashioned rolled oats, approximately 3 cups
- 3 ounces oil packed sardines, drained
- 1 large egg
- 1 ounce unsalted peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce, optional
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pierce the sweet potato several times with a paring knife, then microwave on HIGH for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender.
- Meanwhile, grind the oats in a food processor for 3 minutes or until the consistency of whole wheat flour. Remove the oats from the food processor and set aside.
- Combine the sweet potato pulp, sardines, egg, and peanut butter in food processor. Pulse 10 to 12 times until the mixture forms a thick paste, there will be some lumps.
- Add 2 cups of the ground oats and pulse an additional 10 to 12 times, until the mixture starts to come together. Similarly to pie dough, it will look dry but should hold together when pressed.
- Sprinkle your work surface with some of the remaining oats and roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into treats using a pizza wheel or cookie cutters. (Size of cookie cutters used: 2 inch)
- Bake on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan for 30 to 40 minutes or until treats appear dry and lightly browned on the bottom. Turn off the oven, brush with the fish sauce, if desired, and let the treats dry in the oven for 1 hour.
- Store in an airtight container for 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.