Braised Squirrel. (Pic Heavy)

ShadeTree

Handloader
Mar 6, 2017
2,485
462
At the top of my favorite small game meat, and though more involved than just throwing them in a crockpot, this is my favorite way to make them and well worth it in the end.

I thought rather than just posting what I had for dinner, I'd step by step post the process. Learn how to do this correctly and if times get tough you wont ever feel poor because all you had to eat for that meal was squirrel, trust me. When I serve this to others I get reactions from best squirrel I ever ate, to If I'd have known sq's could be that good when I was growing up, there wouldn't have been any left.

Step 1. Sq's quartered into legs and backs. I throw the rib cages and short back, away.

Rinsed pieces get put in a colander to drain for 20 minutes or so. Lightly pat pieces with paper towel on both sides to get rid of any excess water before browning, so the flour doesn't turn doughy, and browns up nice. I lightly salt & pepper both sides, and a little bit of old bay.

Flour also gets a lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, old bay.

I do the browning part outside on a propane cooker so it's not so messy in the kitchen.

Cast iron skillet, with lard, butter, and some cooking oil. You can just use cooking oil but I like to add lard and butter for flavor.






Lay floured pieces of sq in the pan with the oil at medium heat. You don't want it popping hot like you're frying fish, just hot enough that you can tell it's frying.

Resist the urge to move pieces before they're browned and free from sticking. You will just pull off the browning if you do. You also don't want them browned shoe leather hard, just nice and golden.

This is 1 side already browned, other side browning. I had another small batch of pieces I browned after this. Doesn't matter if the already browned pieces cool off at this point.




When you're all done the oil will have cooked down and you will have some stuck brownings in the bottom of the pan. This is where the wine in the picture comes in. Deglaze the pan with some wine. Little bit of heat and a fork stirring on the bottom and all those brownings come right loose.

Deglazed pan.




I spoon out some of the wine and add some water back in. You just want about 1/8" of liquid in the bottom of the pan. Not much. At this point you will add a cut up onion to lay in the pan to make a bed. How much onion is kind of irrelevant. Much as you want, just so the onion is on the bottom in the liquid and not the sq pieces.



Lay the browned sq pieces on top of the onion.



If you don't have a tight lid that fits, cover the pan on top, sides, and partway around the bottom, with tin foil. If your pan is smaller that pieces are on top of each other, it doesn't matter.




Take the foil wrapped or lidded pan and put it into the oven pre-heated to 325 degrees for around 1 hr 45 minutes. After that you can peek in if you'd like to make sure the liquid hasn't dried out. I don't. I just turn the oven off after 1 hr 45 minutes without opening the door, and let it all sit in there for another hour. It gradually continues to cook and get softer without drying out. If it sits in the oven for 1.5 hrs after turning the oven off, that's okay too.


The wine based liquid steams and moisturizes and the flavor seeps into the meat. End result is pull off the bone with your fingers soft and moist meat, with delicious flavor.

As it looks out of the oven cooked down, after 2.5 hrs.



Side dishes were string beans sautéed in butter, and applesauce we canned last year.

Word of caution. Be careful serving this to youngsters. It's so soft that the tiny support bones in the legs, and the short ribs off the backs pull right off with the meat.

 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
34,708
785
That is a delightful photo-essay. Brings back memories of a boyhood spent in KS traipsing through the hardwoods near my natal home. Excellent, and it does look delicious!
 

ShadeTree

Handloader
Mar 6, 2017
2,485
462
Dr Mike. Sq hunting with a 22 is fun, at least it is to me. I used to kill 100 plus a yr, every yr without fail to put in the freezer. That would keep me stocked up for a couple of big cookouts that I'd do every yr.

Lately I've been slacking off quite a bit on the sq hunting front. I'd say in the last few yrs I'm averaging more like 35-55. Pitiful really, but the main problem is losing good hunting ground close to home. Everybody is worried about sq hunting messing up deer movement. Good grief.
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
34,708
785
Indeed, hunting squirrel (and cottontail) with .22 or with a .410 made for many pleasant days when I was still a lad living in SE KS. The squirrels here in northern BC are rather small. I've never tried to eat one, but I suspect from their diet that they might be a tad gamey.
 

Rol_P

Handloader
Nov 23, 2013
691
2
Last fall i had the pleasure of a call from a fireman friend who had been squirrel hunting with his mother and he invited me to a family get together with roasted squirrel as the main course, with a little red wine on the side.. :grin: Firemen are noted for culinary skill and my host is no exception.
It was simply delicious with roasted vegetables and a healthy side salad. Squirrel had better not mess in my garden this summer or I might be tempted to bring one or two to the slow cooker. :grin:
 

ShadeTree

Handloader
Mar 6, 2017
2,485
462
DrMike":1sybb9n1 said:
Indeed, hunting squirrel (and cottontail) with .22 or with a .410 made for many pleasant days when I was still a lad living in SE KS. The squirrels here in northern BC are rather small. I've never tried to eat one, but I suspect from their diet that they might be a tad gamey.

Cottontail is another delicious small game meat also. I can eat squirrel more frequently without getting tired of it than I can rabbit, but rabbit is some fine eating.

1 other thing I like better about squirrel and squirrel hunting is the fun of trying to head shoot them with a 22. I just about refuse to clean or eat a shot gunned squirrel when they can be had easy enough with a 22.

Rol_P, you might as well put some in the freezer. :) They are easy enough to make a variety of ways. This way is for sure more involved, but is my favorite if I have the time. You wouldn't turn your nose up at them though just putting them in a crock pot for roughly 5 hrs on high, or 7-8 hrs on low. About an hr before time is up, you can put in some BBQ sauce, Italian dressing, whatever you choose. I can't think of a bad way to make them really as long as their cooked correctly so they're soft, and not tough.
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
34,708
785
Funny story, ST. During graduate studies, a grade student a year behind me suggested a meal. She was from Taiwan, and noted that I was killing two hundred fat Sprague-Dawley rats each Friday. These rats were born by cesarean section and raised in a sterile environment. She couldn't understand why we weren't eating them. She knew that when I was conducting heart mitochonrial studies, I had killed two fat rabbits each day and taken them home to be cooked. Ten rabbits a week for six months meant that my wife had become quite expert at cooking small rodents. So, when Lucy suggested a recipe for rat, I casually mentioned to my wife that I was killing two hundred fat rats each Friday, and that Lucy had offered a recipe for us to cook them. My wife demonstrated a genuine smallest of heart when she said, somewhat coolly, I might mention, "The day you bring home a rat, you don't have a home." :evil: I still haven't tried rat, though I'm not closed to it. :shock: Squirrel, she'd try. Rabbit, she'd try. Rat, not so much.
 

ShadeTree

Handloader
Mar 6, 2017
2,485
462
DrMike":2g8dp9gd said:
Funny story, ST. During graduate studies, a grade student a year behind me suggested a meal. She was from Taiwan, and noted that I was killing two hundred fat Sprague-Dawley rats each Friday. These rats were born by cesarean section and raised in a sterile environment. She couldn't understand why we weren't eating them. She knew that when I was conducting heart mitochonrial studies, I had killed two fat rabbits each day and taken them home to be cooked. Ten rabbits a week for six months meant that my wife had become quite expert at cooking small rodents. So, when Lucy suggested a recipe for rat, I casually mentioned to my wife that I was killing two hundred fat rats each Friday, and that Lucy had offered a recipe for us to cook them. My wife demonstrated a genuine smallest of heart when she said, somewhat coolly, I might mention, "The day you bring home a rat, you don't have a home." :evil: I still haven't tried rat, though I'm not closed to it. :shock: Squirrel, she'd try. Rabbit, she'd try. Rat, not so much.

Haha. Ten rabbits a week?? Whew! That would get old no matter how good you got at making them. Lol.

Reminds me of when I first got married. I made the mistake of mentioning to my wife that I liked cinnamon. Well, I had cinnamon toast every morning, cinnamon in cakes and pies, probably hot chocolate, I don't remember. Cinnamon in everything. The last straw was when I bit into a meatloaf and stuffing meal, and tasted cinnamon in the stuffing. I couldn't take it anymore. LOL. Needless to say my wife has come a LONG ways on the cooking front since. She's an excellent cook.
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
34,708
785
Graduate students don't make a lot of money, and my wife stayed home to raise our children (I was a child groom). I've often said (not altogether facetiously) that she could write a cookbook, "1001 Ways to Prepare Rabbit." Yeah, we've eaten it in a startling variety of ways. And, yes, it is true that I'm not overly fond of rabbit anymore. Now, cinnamon? We haven't reached that stage yet. I can see how cinnamon in the meat loaf could be a bit surprising.
 

6mm Remington

Ammo Smith
Feb 27, 2006
5,070
23
Man that squirrel looks wonderful. Our squirrels in the mountains here might be a bit gamey like Dr. Mike says, but I saw a young man and his wife a few years back shooting some to eat. He said they are fantastic. We do have some larger red squirrels in our yard with the big bushy tail. They get pretty big and I know they are eating well because every day they get into my wife's bird feeder and help themselves.
 

hunter24605

Handloader
Apr 30, 2016
1,125
311
that sounds great! I used to love squirrel (both hunting and eating them) but haven't taken the time to go after them for several years. This just makes me want to grab the .22 and head out when season comes in..I'll definitely give this a whirl. Thanks for sharing.
 
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