Without a doubt, squirrel hunting is a lot of fun and a great way to get the kiddies involved in the sport of hunting. A Maryland grey squirrel was, in fact, my first harvest as a hunter. I can remember that hunt with my dad better than I can some of the successful deer hunts that I have been on since. But a tricky question after bagging your limit of bushy tails is how do I cook them? Being such a small and active animal, squirrels have very lean meat that can dry out, get tough, and “stringy” very quickly if your not careful. One of my favorite recipes is for squirrel gravy. Its hearty, filling, and delicious!
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 cleaned squirrels (whole of in pieces)
1/2 lb of pork sausage (optional)
8 cups of water
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground sage
1/3 cup corn starch
8 biscuits (homemade or store bought)
Place water, squirrels, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage into a large pot. Bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat and allow it to simmer uncovered for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove from the water, peel the flesh from the bones, and chop as fine as you prefer. I like mine a little chunky so I cut the pieces to under 1/4″ or so. Save 4 cups of the remaining broth and pour it and the whole milk into a 3 quart pot. Now brown the pork sausage in a large skillet adding in the chopped squirrel meat. Once the sausage is cooked, drain the drippings into the pot already containing the squirrel broth and set the skillet aside (with the meat). Bring the broth to a high simmer and add the remaining salt, pepper, and sage. In a separate bowl, add the corn starch and just enough water or left over broth and mix it into a slurry. Slowly poor the liquid starch into the broth, stirring as you go. Reduce heat to a low simmer and continue stirring. As the broth begins to thicken, add the meat and continue stirring until it reaches the consistency of gravy. Pour it over your favorite biscuit and enjoy!
Notes: I have also made this same recipe using rabbit in place of the squirrel and it is just as good. The fat in the sausage adds a richness to the flavor, but if you are a purist and balk at the inclusion of the pork sausage, thinking it ruins perfectly good squirrel, have no fear. In place of the pork, add one more squirrel, one more cup of whole milk, and use one less cup of broth.
I hope you give it a try!
Instructions on how to clean squirrels can be found here.