Tastes Like Chicken: Cooking with Squirrels

Tastes Like Chicken

Another thing to be aware of during Squirrel Awareness Month in October is that squirrels are edible.

Of course, before you can cook them properly you have to kill them. It’s not like cooking lobster or eating oysters on the half shell. So to properly prepare Batter Fried Squirrel, Brunswick Stew, or any other hardy pioneer fare, it’s time to go squirrel hunting. Fortunately October is also squirrel hunting season in Harris County. So get your license, and round up your gear and head for the hunting grounds.

Step 1 Hunt Them Down

But before you go, here are some things you might want to know:

Small-Game and Varmint Hunter's Bible     The Small-Game and Varmint Hunter's Bible / H. Lea Lawrence
Squirrels pages 1-17

Ultimate Guide to Small Game and Varmint Hunting     The Ultimate Guide to Small Game and Varmint Hunting: How to Hunt Squirrels, Rabbits, Woodchucks, Coyotes, Foxes, and Other Game Animals / H. Lea Lawrence 
Squirrels pages 1-25

This is essentially the same title as the author’s The Small-Game and Varmint Hunter's Bible  above. The order of some of the paragraphs has been rearranged, and here or there a sentence has been added or a phrase edited, but the changes are minor. These two books contain good information on tree squirrel stalking and hunting technique and gear. Both have sections on skinning and preparing game and recipes.
 

Small Game and Varmint Hunting / Wilf E. Pyle
There’s a wealth of information in this volume: ten pages on black tail prairie dog hunting, ten pages on rockchucks and woodchucks, eight pages on tree squirrels, and nine on other ground squirrels, and lots of information on rifles, shotguns, reloading, muzzleloaders, shooting skills, and game preparation.
 

Texas Hunting and Fishing     Texas Hunting and Fishing / Luke Clayton
In the chapter on Small Game, Clayton has a few pages (35-38) on fox squirrel and gray squirrel stalking and hunting. Like many East Texans he calls the gray squirrel a “cat squirrel” and claims, “Hunting cat squirrels with a .22 has to be ultimate small game challenge.” He also includes two recipes: for squirrel and dumplings and squirrel camp stew.
 

Texas Safari     Texas Safari: The Game Hunter's Guide to Texas / Gayne C. Young
Young give a couple of pages (140-142) to the subject of squirrel hunting: where to hunt and recommended calibers to use.

Online information about squirrel hunting can be found Game and Fish with articles like “Gearing up for Bushytails” and links to squirrel stalking techniques. A nice feature of the website is its quick navigation search that lets you sort links to articles specific to the state from Texas Sportsman magazine or specific kings of game or fish. But don’t look under Fish coverage—fish eat squirrels, not the other way around.

In her post on HuntingNet Brenda Potts lists “Five Reasons To Go Squirrel Hunting” and "Reason # 4" is "GREAT CUISINE."  Which brings us to Step 2: Cook Them Up.

Step 2 Cook Them Up

Field Dressing and Butchering Rabbits, Squirrels, and Other Small Game     Field Dressing and Butchering Rabbits, Squirrels, and Other Small Game : Step-By-Step Instructions, From Field To Table / Monte Burch
Preparing Fish & Wild Game and Lawrence’s books give basic field dressing instructions, Burch’s book give more in-depth instruction. In addition to skinning the critter, there’s information on butchering it, how to wrap it for freezing, how to can it, smoke it, dry it or turn it into sausage or jerky. It also includes basic tools to use, some information on stretching the hide, and ten recipes for squirrel.

Directions on how to skin a squirrel is also included in "A Squirrel Cuisine" by Mark Goodwin. It also includes directions for dressing and cooking them.

Wild About Game     Wild About Game: 150 Recipes for Farm-Raised and Wild Game, from Alligator and Antelope to Venison and Wild Turkey / Janie Hibler
Hibler writes, “Early settlers learned how to make stew from the Indians by cooking small game, such as squirrel and rabbit, with corn, tomatoes, and beans.  Squirrel meat is white and tastes similar to chicken.
Best Cooking Methods: Substitute in any recipe for chicken.” (Page 172) This advice is given the amen by the 75th anniversary edition of The Joy of Cooking. In addition Hibler includes tables of nutritional data for game. 100 grams of squirrel has 120 calories, 3 grams of fat (only ¼ the fat of an equal weight of raccoon!), and 83 mg. of cholesterol.


Kill It & Grill It     Kill it & grill it : a guide to preparing and cooking wild game and fish / Ted & Shemane Nugent

Nugent offers two hunting stories in his own inimitable style. Sandwiched between them is a recipe for Squirrel Casserole featuring packages of frozen broccoli with cheese and a can of cream of mushroom soup. As he so eloquently describes the process,

“Kill tree-dwelling vermin, remove PJs, take to flame, chowdown. Drive safely. It’s really that simple to get a good meal of squirrel. Limbrat whackin’ is truly bigfun any ol’ way ya choose it—bow and arrow, pistol, rifle, scattergun, slingshot, falconry, grenades, and my favorite, flamethrower.” [sic] page 135

Preparing Fish & Wild Game     Preparing Fish & Wild Game

After you’ve killed it this valuable book shows you clearly how to clean it and cook it. It has step-by-step instructions, illustrated with color photographs, on how to skin a squirrel. It also has a small game substitution table so if you’re out of squirrel, you’ll know how much raccoon, rabbit, or hare, you can substitute in a recipe. Recipes for squirrel include: Brunswick stew, homesteader’s squirrel with cream gravy, one-pot squirrel dinner, sherried squirrel, sour cream squirrel with herbs, squirrel pot pie, and squirrel supreme. There’s also this good advice: don’t fry an old squirrel – too tough – stew it instead, use the young and tender ones to make southern fried squirrel with gravy.
 

In addition to the titles above you can also find recipes in some of the other cookbooks and small game hunting guides available at the library. Here’s a sampling:

 

Recipe
Cookbook
Page
Baked Squirrel
112-113
Batter-Fried Squirrel
172
Batter-Fried Squirrel
234
Broiled Squirrel 
132
Brunswick Stew
112
Busy-Day One-Dish Meal
114
Cashew Squirrel
113
Deep Fried Squirrel
112
Dinner In a Pot
115
Enchilada Pie
114
Fried Squirrel
111
Fried Squirrel with Cream Gravy
142
Oven Fried Squirrel
281-282
Southern Squirrel ‘n Dumplings
172
Southern Squirrel ‘n Dumplings
234
Squirrel and Dumplings
150-151
Squirrel Brunswick Stew
144
Squirrel Camp Stew
151-152
Squirrel County Style
143
Squirrel Dumpling
306-307
Squirrel Pie
144
Squirrel Sauce Piquant
178
Squirrel Stew
156-157
Squirrel Stew
113
Squirrel Stew
132
Squirrel Stew Diablo
172
Squirrel Stew Diablo
235
Squirrel Under Sauerkraut
114-115

Next time: The Ultimate Tag Team Match Up

Squirrel Lovers and Squirrel Huggers v. Squirrel Hunters and Squirrel Haters

Also featuring Silly Squirrel Sites