Have you ever considered squirrel meat as a potential source of culinary delight? If not, you’re missing out on a unique and delicious experience. Squirrel meat is not only tasty but can be prepared and enjoyed in a variety of ways. Let’s explore this a bit further!
Squirrel Meat Versus Chicken
Before we dive into the various squirrel meat recipes, it’s important to understand what squirrel meat is like. Often compared to chicken, squirrel meat can be used as a substitute in any recipe that calls for chicken. Unlike some game meats, squirrel meat is not overly gamey. It is mostly dark meat with a thin layer of fat, lending it a mild flavor.
A 3.5-ounce serving of roasted squirrel meat has 172 calories and 4.7 grams of total fat. This makes it a leaner choice compared to the same serving size of chicken thigh, which contains 184 calories and 9.16 grams of total fat.
Most hunters prefer larger squirrel species like the fox squirrel or the Eastern gray squirrel. Weighing 1.5 to 3 pounds, these larger species fall into the same weight range as a Cornish game hen. The age and size of the squirrel determine how it should be cooked. Typically, the older and bigger the squirrel, the slower it should be cooked.
Squirrel Meat Preparation: The Basics
When preparing squirrel meat, it’s crucial to follow safe cooking practices. Always wash your hands before you start cooking. We also recommend using a separate cutting board for meat to prevent cross-contamination.
Slow Cooking Squirrel Meat
Slow cooking squirrel meat is a popular method that enhances the flavor and tenderness of the meat. Start by cutting the squirrel meat into 1-inch slices. Coat these slices in seasoned flour and brown them all over in neutral oil. After browning, set the meat aside on a platter.
Next, saute cut-up vegetables like carrots, celery, and onion until they’re brown. This step adds delicious caramelized flavors to the dish. Return the meat to the pot and cover it with vegetable or chicken broth. Allow it to cook for four to six hours on high heat or until the vegetables are soft.
To add a twist, baste the squirrel in milk to create a delectable sauce. The acids in the milk tenderize the meat, making it melt-in-your-mouth soft.
Deep-Frying Squirrel Meat
Deep-frying is another great method for cooking squirrel meat. This method results in a delicious meal that can be the star of any tailgate feast. Start by making a batter using buttermilk, which also tenderizes the meat. Add flour and season with salt and pepper to taste. To get the batter to crisp up quicker and absorb less fat, consider adding a teaspoon of baking soda.
Once the meat pieces are coated in the batter, place them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. This helps the batter stick to the meat. Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet with neutral oil or butter to 350°F. Fry a few pieces at a time to maintain the temperature of the oil. Each side should take a few minutes to turn a beautiful golden brown.
Beyond Traditional: Exciting Ways to Enjoy Squirrel Meat
Apart from the traditional cooking methods, squirrel meat can be enjoyed in a variety of other ways:
- Squirrel sausage
- Squirrel jerky
- Country-fried squirrel steaks
- Marinated squirrel kabobs
The possibilities are endless!
Squirrel Meat Sides: What to Serve?
While squirrels don’t provide a lot of meat, you can still create a hearty meal by pairing it with the right sides. Here are some of our favorite accompaniments to serve with your squirrel delicacy:
Biscuits with Gravy
Pairing fried squirrel with biscuits and gravy creates an incredibly hearty meal. Because of the smaller size of the squirrel, the biscuits and gravy complement the meal by adding substantial bulk. This woodsy morning dish can also double as a comforting dinner, particularly when paired with fried eggs and orange juice.
Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
For a classic southern meal, serve your cooked squirrel in the same manner as fried chicken or steak. Accompany it with a hefty serving of mashed potatoes and green beans. This combination is a surefire way to create a meal you won’t soon forget.
Add Squirrel Meat to Stew
While it’s not strictly a side dish, adding squirrel meat to a stew is a delicious way to incorporate it into your meal. You can substitute squirrel meat for the chicken in a chicken and dumplings dish, or add it to a vegetable soup. Other options include making a potato, corn, and squirrel stew or a warming squirrel chili for chilly winter nights.
Oven-Baked Garlic Potatoes and Carrots
When in doubt, oven-roasted sides never fail. Pair your squirrel meat with garlicky oven-baked potatoes and carrots. You can roast the squirrel and vegetables together on a sheet pan, or cook them separately. Either way, the carrots and potatoes make a fulfilling side dish.
Looking for More?
If these ideas have piqued your interest and you’re now excited to try squirrel meat, we recommend checking out Practical Self Reliance. They have an extensive list of over 40 scrumptious squirrel dishes that are definitely worth exploring.
So, there you have it – a comprehensive guide to exploring and enjoying the unique taste of squirrel meat. Whether you’re an adventurous foodie or a seasoned hunter looking for new ways to cook your game, squirrel meat offers a world of delicious possibilities. Happy cooking!