April 2018
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Squirrel for Supper

Squirrel hunting is fun for kids and can provide for some great family meals.

 

(From left) Cason, Jason and Len Kirk, and George Whitaker with Molly after a successful squirrel hunt.

The dog’s name was Molly. She wasn’t a hound. Molly was a Mountain Cur. Going on smell, sight and winding, she would lead Cason and my family to nests of squirrels throughout the woods.

Molly would tree a squirrel and then the hunters would shake the vines vigorously. If that didn’t work, a large limb was used to hit the tree, causing vibrations to go up to the nest. After that, it was up to the squirrel to cooperate and Cason to have good aim.

Cason has been hunting with his Daddy many times, but this squirrel hunt was different. This trip was special because it was Cason`s first time hunting with his own gun.

Just before his eighth birthday this past February, Cason started asking when he could get a gun of his own. For his birthday, Jason gave him a .22 rifle. Cason was so proud and excited. However, before taking his .22 to the woods, he got another surprise: a .410 with a long history.

After squirrel hunting all day, Cason came back to the house beaming and exclaimed, "Mama, I shot the .410 that was Paw Paw Willie’s, and I got three squirrels!"

The .410 first belonged to his great-grandfather Willie Kirk, who later passed it down to his son Len, who passed it on to my husband Jason.

"It was Daddy’s, but now it’s mine!" he said.

I don’t know which he was more proud of, being able to hit three squirrels or the honor of inheriting a family heirloom.

Cason isn’t only interested in hunting – he is also thinking about what he might be able to bring to the table for our next meal. Because of his interest in cooking, it won’t be long before he starts trying to put his own spin on some of the family recipes such as squirrel dumplings.

If your own children are starting to bring dinner home from the hunt, here are a few recipes for you and your children to try. Two are definitely easy enough for someone of Cason’s age to prepare, but the rack of squirrel has multiple steps and probably needs an adult in the kitchen.

 

RACK OF SQUIRREL

6 squirrel loins
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons squirrel fat, divided
¼ cup carrots, diced
¼ cup onion, diced
¼ cup celery, diced
Fresh mushrooms, sliced, to taste (optional)
2 Tablespoons garlic, fresh and chopped or minced
½ cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay (alternatives to wine: chicken broth or white grape juice with 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice)
1 quart chicken stock
2 teaspoons thyme
2 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
Dried mushrooms, to taste
1 cup heavy cream

Season squirrel with salt and pepper. In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon squirrel fat. Sear each side for 2-3 minutes. Remove meat from pan.

Return pan to heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon fat. Lower heat to medium. Add carrots, onions and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally for about 5-7 minutes or until vegetables soften. Add fresh mushrooms and garlic. Allow to cook for 5-7 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove pan from heat and deglaze with wine. Return to heat and continue to cook for 6-8 minutes more or until wine is nearly reduced. Add chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves, mustard and dried mushrooms. Stir. Add squirrel back to pan. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 90-120 minutes or until tender. Remove meat and allow to rest.

In pan, add cream. Bring to a simmer. Reduce by about ¼ cup and season to taste.

Pour sauce over squirrel when ready to serve.

 

ROAST SQUIRREL WITH STUFFING

1 small onion, sliced
3 Tablespoons butter
3 cups soft breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Water
2-3 pounds of squirrels, skinned and cleaned, heart and liver reserved (1 serves 2 people)
Butter, oil or fat, for rubbing
Flour, for gravy

In a pan over medium heat, sauté onions in butter until lightly browned. Add breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Mix well.

In a saucepan, add water, heart and liver. Boil until tender. Chop heart and liver fine. Add to stuffing mixture. Mix. Add some water from heart and liver broth to moisten.

Rub squirrels with butter, oil or fat before cooking. Stuff with stuffing mixture. Sew opening and tie legs together to close body.

In a roaster, place squirrels on sides. Roast at 450° for 15 minutes. Turn once and baste frequently with melted butter or drippings. Reduce heat to 350° and continue cooking 1¼-1½ hours, basting every 15 minutes.

After cooking is complete, make a paste from a little flour and cold water. Add to drippings to make gravy.

 

SQUIRREL POTPIE

3 grey or fox squirrels
½ cup flour, reserve 1 Tablespoon
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 quart boiling water
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Biscuit crust rounds
Lemon juice or Worcestershire sauce, to taste (optional)

Skin, clean and disjoint squirrels. Roll in flour. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Sauté squirrel until brown. Add water, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Lay biscuit crust on squirrel. Re-cover. Let boil for 15 minutes more. Remove squirrel and crust from saucepan. In small bowl, blend 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Add to saucepan, mixing well. Pour over squirrel and crusts. Add lemon juice or Worcestershire sauce.

 

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.