Go nuts for squirrel meat
Squirrel is nothing new for the dinner table in the Southern US, and has become quite popular in Britain, especially during its “Save Our Squirrels” campaign. The campaign began in 2006 to rescue Britain’s red squirrels… by piquing the nation’s appetite for their marauding North American cousins. With a rallying motto of “Save a red, eat a gray!” the campaign created a market for culled squirrel meat. While the folks in the US are generally frying the little fellas, the replacement of squirrel meat for other game such as rabbit, pheasant, and quail has become a trend, and there are a surprising amount of recipes, from pate to squirrel ravioli. Despite the classification of “vermin”, Squirrel is becoming more popular in the western countries, especially as a novelty. You can actually get the meat in some butcher shops in the UK, but I haven’t seen them there… yet.
How to prepare the Squirrel
Besides the arduous task of actually catching one of these little critters (I recommend a .22), you will need to follow some directions to properly prepare the meat.
Rinse the freshly killed squirrel in water, ensuring it is entirely saturated. Leave the squirrel in the water long enough to soak to the skin; this will keep the hair together and make it easier to skin.
Take out the entrails using a sharp knife. Cut on the belly from just under the ribs, through the abdomen and toward the hindquarters. Remove the bladder first, being careful not to spill any urine on the meat. Open the pelvis and take out the remaining organs.
Skin the squirrel by slicing just under the skin from the hind end and over the belly to the squirrel’s flanks. Take the tail and pull toward the forelegs, removing the hide.
Cut off the squirrel’s feet and head. Pull the remaining skin from the legs. Remove the innards as soon as possible. Meat that marinates in the innards will taste gamy.
I have never skinned a squirrel, honest Ma. I got the steps here.
Still hungry? Here’s how to cook a squirrel
Here’s a video on “Squirrel Parmesan”. I would also check out this video for a stew recipe.
Tips and warnings!
- The part of the country your squirrel came from will affect the taste. Midwestern squirrels eat nuts and acorns and generally have good tasting meat.
- The meat of younger squirrels is more tender.
- Cook squirrel meat longer than traditional meats. It takes longer for wild game meat to become tender.
- Don’t use a squirrel that was shot through the abdomen. These are much harder to clean and the meat becomes tainted from the entrails.
- Prepare, cook and eat fresh squirrel as soon as possible to avoid spoilage. Freeze the clean, unused squirrel meat after cleaning to keep it fresh.