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What is squirrel like?

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I thought about this last night as I shoveled one that was hit by a car in front of my house into my garbage can. It seemed very large and probably weighed a good 2-3 pounds or more. The only pertinent listing I found was one on Brunswick stew. Just wondering what kind of eating they are?

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  1. Depends on where you live. If you're in the Midwest or thereabouts and you have those big fox squirrels, they are very tasty indeed. They can be prepared exactly as rabbit - my mom always dredged them in seasoned flour, browned them and braised them in a covered casserole so that it made its own gravy. She used just water as the liquid, I think, though chicken stock with a little white wine would be good. The flavor is not really gamy at all - almost exactly like wild rabbit.

    The smaller one found elsewhere are not really worth the trouble, and those who inhabit the evergreen forests in the Northeast (and out here on the West Coast) are not only small but tend to taste like turpentine, or so I've heard.

    Please note that in any case they should be shot, rather than run over...!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Will Owen

      If you need some ideas on side dishes, you may find the following article from this weeks New York Times interesting:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/04/din...

      I had squirrel potpie in Georgia about 15 years ago, and it was not bad. But the cook knew by name which squirrel they were eating. In an effort to fatten them up, they tamed and named them. Maybe by adjusting their feed, you can play with their taste?

      1. re: Will Owen

        Squirrel is delish, and Will nailed it (ever use onions in the braise?), but not helpful if you've never tasted wild rabbit! Dark, lean, more savory than domestic rabbit. Certainly not chicken. I could say they're reminiscent of mudhens (aka marsh hens) but that probably doesn't help either. We used older ones for Brunswick stew as they can be tough. Southeastern squirrels are definitely worth the trouble, no turps I've ever tasted.

        Not run over, but maybe freshly hit...

        1. re: Aromatherapy

          No, I think you'll get the same kind of uric acid injection into the muscle tissue that happens with roadkill deer. It can be alleviated somewhat by brining, but the best bet is just not to monkey with it.

          The fox squirrel, which can be just about any color (there's a town in Illinois that's famous for its white ones), is the largest variety, getting up to 3 pounds or so - about the size of a wild cottontail, only longer of course. Them's good eatin', especially as their diet is mostly nuts and acorns, plus the fruit and the occasional bug. I've read that they'll eat baby birds and mice, too, though I've never seen that. Southeastern squirrels are generally smaller; when my wife laid eyes on her first Illinois squirrel (we lived in Nashville at the time) she thought she was seeing a land-dwelling muskrat or something. As it was the first one I'd seen in over thirty years, it looked pretty huge to me, too.

          1. re: Will Owen

            We have fox squirrels in certain parts of the southeast, too. Hang around the Charleston suburbs long enough and you'll spot one. (We also have hairless foxes, but that's another story.)

      2. I don't know, but I say stick to chicken. Probably taste like chicken anyway.;)

        1. In New Orleans, squirrel was said to require a dark roux.

          1. I ate squirrel regularly as a kid and teenager, but I honestly can't think of anything to compare it with. It didn't taste "gamey" at all- I can't stand gamey, nor did it taste like chicken.
            My grandmother would fry it like chicken and make a gravy from the fry oil. It was my favorite meat at the time. And we did put it in Brunswick stew.
            Now, I drew the line at eating squirrel brains, which was a common breakfast food amongst the old timers in the N.C. hills. Disgusting!

            5 Replies
            1. re: Spencer

              Of all the unusual meats described as "tastes like chicken", but which DON'T, I really do think squirrel tastes like dark-meat chicken.

              1. re: watercress

                Definitely did not to me, but I guess just as we all have different personalities, we can all have different tastes.
                I can say this with a large degree of certainty- chicken today, purchased in the typical American grocery store, has no taste at all when compared to the chicken of my youth. I was raised on a farm and we butchered our own chickens. I'm sure this lack of taste can be attributed to the grain fed, steroid induced chickens today whose feet have never touched the ground, let alone scratched for worms and bugs.

              2. re: Spencer

                creutzfeldt-jakob was diagnosed in an unusually large number of oldtimers who all ate squirrel brains. yuk.

                http://weeklywire.com/ww/09-22-97/nas...

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  (toungue in cheek)
                  I think you have to be about half nuts(or squirrely, perhaps) to eat squirrel brains to begin with :)

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I went to a wild game dinner on St. Paddy's day. The squirrel was breaded and baked. Very tasty and tender, like rabbit. How do I know it was squirrel? Two of my tablemates found the heads on their plate (after I finished my portion). No one ate them, but someone else explained that many oldtimers said the brains were the best part: sweet and the size of a walnut. I guess I found my dividing line: raccoon was ok, squirrel is ok; squirrel brains is not, nor for that matter is beaver (though I at least sampled that).

                2. CTG, Your squirrel dining experience will greatly depend upon the age and condition of the squirrel you just shot. (Will Owen is correct; however, I am certain there are pate` options for those squirrels killed by road warriors.) Experienced squirrel hunters can tell the approximate age of the critter by how easily the skin comes off. (The determining factor between frying and braising.) My suggestion is to recreate the German custom of feasting on mixed game meats. Cook some squirrel, rabbit, partridge and buffalo--each in a different way--and serve with pomme frites, salad and beer. Critically important to the success of the feast is who you decide to invite.

                  1. In response to my frustration at having squirrels living IN the walls of my home, someone posted the following recipe on my blog: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Slow-Coo...