Pretty Squirrelly

Is squirrel edible? Many years ago, I was camping with a group of friends. Stayed up late around the fire and finally crawled into my sleeping bag. Someone woke me up around 3 am with “squirrel’s ready – want some?” No, I really didn’t at that point, or any time since then! While I do enjoy good venison, duck, goose and turkey, I’m not real experienced with wild game. Had rabbit once, and thought it was OK, but did not want any the second time it was available.

The Mr has been getting into the idea of bushcrafting, and finally talked me into trying squirrel again. He lured a couple of them in, boom! and had them all skinned and ready for cooking, so my part was relatively easy. Finish cleaning them up, cut them into serving size pieces, soak them in a buttermilk mixture overnight and braise. It actually came out pretty good. Here’s the recipe I followed, more or less:

Buttermilk Fried Squirrel

2 or 3 young squirrels, cut into serving pieces

2 cups buttermilk

1 medium onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon tarragon (or a teaspoon each of your 3 favorite dried herbs)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

1 – 2 cups vegetable oil or pork fat (I used the pork fat I had left over when I made sausage recently)

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 bowl, mix the flour with the garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne, as well as a dash of salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high heat until a pinch of flour starts to sizzle when dropped in the hot oil but not so the pan is smoking. Place the squirrel pieces in the flour and coat each one completely. 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. Be careful to keep the oil hot enough to fry the squirrel, but not so that it burns. When the squirrel is nicely browned, add some chicken or beef stock to the pan, cover and simmer for about 2 hours or until it is very tender. I used my mother in law’s old electric frying pan, set to 350 degrees for the browning and about 225 for the simmering. Serve with gravy, mashed potatoes and vegetable like corn or peas.