Some people love hunting them, but have never tasted squirrel. Others swear by their meat, claiming the deliciousness that can come out of such a small critter is unheard of.
One thing's for sure, it's always fun to cook up those little rascals into one tasty meal.
Here are our six favorite squirrel recipes.
Ready in: 2 hours 45 minutes
3 large squirrels, skinned and gutted
1/2 cup butter
2 onions, sliced
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
18 pitted prunes
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup cold water
Clean squirrels thoroughly and pat dry. Cut into 1-inch cubed pieces.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add squirrel and fry until just browned, about 6 minutes. Add the squirrel pieces to a large Dutch oven or crock.
Meanwhile add onions to the butter in the skillet. Cook until tender and browned, stirring occassionally. Pour the onions and butter into the pot with the squirrel.
Fill the pot with enough water to almost cover the meat. Add the vinegar and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and place in the oven.
Bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and add the prunes. Return to the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Continue baking for another 45 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven, and use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and prunes. Move to a serving dish.
Mix the flour and cold water together in a cup. Set the pot on the stove and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and water and simmer, stirring constantly, until it turns to thick gravy and is able to coat a metal spoon.
Cook the bacon and set aside. Reserve grease in the skillet. While the bacon is cooking, season the squirrel with salt and pepper, and set aside.
In a resealable bag, add flour and cornstarch. Whisk together eggs and milk until smooth. Dredge the squirrel in the flour mixture, shake off excess flour, then dip into egg mixture, shaking off excess egg. Dredge again in the flour, and set aside.
Discard all but two tablespoons of bacon fat from the skillet, and bring back to medium-high heat. Cook the squirrel pieces until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side, then set aside.
Turn heat down to medium; add the onions, garlic, and shallot and cook for 3 minutes, until soft. Pour in the chicken stock, and add the bay leaf and minced thyme. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
Add the squirrel, return to a simmer, cover, then turn heat to medium-low. Cook until very tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove the squirrel legs to a serving platter and spoon the sauce over them. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and serve.
Pound the almonds with the garlic cloves and a pinch of salt in a mortar; you could also pulse them in a food processor or chop them finely by hand. Chop the olives roughly.
Pour the olive oil in something ovenproof with a lid (a Dutch oven) and heat it over medium-high heat. Salt the squirrel and roll it in the flour. Brown the meat on all sides over medium heat. Remove the meat from the pot as it browns and set it aside.
While the squirrel is browning, slice the onion in half. Grate one half through a coarse grater, and roughly chop the other half. You could also slice it in half-moons.
When all the meat is browned, add the white wine and broth and scrape off any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring this to a rolling boil.
When the liquid is boiling, add the almond-garlic mixture, the chile and the grated onion. Mix well and let boil for a minute.
Add the squirrel back to the pot. Make sure it is not totally submerged. Halfway is ideal. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, take the pot out and add the sliced onion, the olives and the potatoes. Mix everything together.
Cover the pot again and return to the oven for another 45 minutes to an hour.
1 teaspoon tarragon (or a teaspoon each of your 3 favorite dried herbs)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
2-3 cups grape seed or vegetable oil
Soak the squirrel overnight in buttermilk with onions, garlic, herbs, paprika and cayenne pepper.
Drain in a colander, leaving some herbs on the meat. In a large re-sealable plastic bag, or in a large bowl, mix the flour with the garlic and onion powder and cayenne, as well as a dash of salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high heat.
Place the squirrel pieces in the bag with flour and shake until thoroughly coated.
Add the squirrel to the skillet and fry on one side for about 10 minutes, until golden brown, and then use tongs to turn the pieces over and fry for another 10 minutes, again until golden brown.
Remove the squirrel from the skillet and place it on a wire rack over paper towel.
Start by placing flour, salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning into a large zip style or paper bag and giving it a good shake to mix thoroughly. Remove the squirrel pieces from the buttermilk, shaking off any excess, and drop them into the flour bag. Shake thoroughly and then place the coated pieces onto a cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the crust to set. Reserve three tablespoons of the seasoned flour for gravy making later.
Next, head on over to the fridge and take out your jar of saved bacon grease. What? You don't keep a jar of saved bacon grease in the fridge? You should.
Nothing fries food or makes gravy like the magical elixir that remains after frying bacon.
You can always fry a bit of bacon and use the remaining grease to fry your squirrel, or even use one of the lesser frying mediums, like vegetable oil or shortening, and get almost as fine a result.
Heat about half an inch of the oil of choice in a heavy frying pan, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Squirrels being squirrels, even the young ones do enough running and jumping to be a bit on the tough side, and so a long, slow fry with the lid on helps to soften them up.
Fry the squirrel in batches, lid tightly on, for 10 to 12 minutes per side. When the pieces are browned and cooked through, remove them to a warm plate and cover with foil while you make your gravy.
Pour off all but three tablespoons of oil from the pan. Make sure all of the brown stuck-on bits left from the frying remain. Add in the three tablespoons of reserved seasoned flour and stir well until the flour is lightly browned. Slowly add the milk and continue to stir. Those bits of goodness that were stuck to the pan should loosen and incorporate into the gravy. Stir until the gravy has thickened to the point that it will coat the back of a spoon and tracks remain when you push the spoon across the skillet.
My favorite way to serve fried squirrel and gravy is alongside homemade biscuits and scrambled eggs with a few slices of late-summer tomatoes.
Fancy? Nope. It's about as simple as a meal can be. Good? You betcha. About as good as it gets.
There you have it, our top six favorite squirrel recipes. Get out there and bring some gourmet meat home and get cooking.