I know that in Louisiana, they are trying to create a culinary demand for nutria, since the wretched beasts have outworn their welcome in the wetlands there. They were once imported from South America for their fur – but I have no idea why American grey squirrels were inflicted upon Great Britain. You’d think they had enough problems of their own without adding imported, fluffy-tailed tree rats to them … maybe it was payback for that fool who wished America to have every critter mentioned in Shakespeare.
Anyway, it looks from this story that our friends across the pond are having better luck with transmuting grey squirrels from an environmental pest to a gourmet treat. The linked story did not give specifics, though. A quick snorkel through the internet turned up a rather appealing pre-turn-of-the-last-century recipe for squirrel pie – from Louisiana, as I might have expected. As the Texan once remarked to the Louisianan, “Heck, y’all eat things we call the Orkin man for!”
From La Cuisine Creole
Cut up two or three young squirrels or rabbits; put them in a saucepan to cook with two ounces of butter, a handful of chopped mushrooms, a bunch of parsley and two shallots chopped; season with pepper and salt, and a little thyme or sweet herbs; cook them a light brown.
Throw in a glass of white wine, a half cup of brown gravy from veal or chicken, and the juice of half a lemon. Toss all up on the fire fifteen or twenty minutes, and it is ready to be put in the pie.
If you have no gravy on hand, add to the rabbits a cup of sweet milk, and a piece of butter, as large as a hen’s egg. (Always with butter the size of a walnut or a hens’ egg!)
Make a nice paste, line the sides of the pan, pour in the stewed rabbit, and cover with paste. (I presume this to be standard pastry, rolled out and shaped into the pan, and rolled out to cover it.) Bake until a light brown, and eat cold or hot. It is almost as good a venison pie.
My copy of the classic Joy of Cooking offers directions on dressing out the squirrel. It appears from the diagram that it can be rather efficiently skinned, although wearing gloves is advised. Joy advises cooking them in a Brunswick Stew, substituting a mixture of pork and squirrel for 5lbs chicken, cut up.
Sautee chicken/squirrel/pork in ¼ cup shortening, and remove when lightly brown. Brown in the fat, ½ chopped onion. Put the meat, onion and all into a large stewpot and add:
1 ½ to 2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes.
3 cups fresh lima beans
1 cup boiling water
A few grains cayenne pepper (whoa – don’t go mad with the seasonings, here!)
2 whole cloves.
Simmer covered until tender, and then add 3 cups fresh corn, cut from the cob, and season to taste with salt and pepper, and 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, and thicken with 1 cup toasted breadcrumbs. Bon Appetite!