While many cooks would not place squirrel high on their list of delicacies, this capricious tree dweller has been served as standard table fare for centuries. The meat is considered to have a slightly nutty flavor and is otherwise comparable to rabbit in taste and texture. Squirrel is often cooked in liquid to keep the lean meat from drying out. Nutritionally, squirrel meat is 21.4 percent protein and 3.2 percent fat, and it contains 149 calories per 100g serving.
Make a small incision with your knife in the squirrel's abdomen, just above the genitalia. With the sharp edge of the knife facing up, gently cut the abdomen until you reach the bottom of the rib cage.
Pull the organs from the abdominal cavity, making sure not to rupture the intestines.
Cut the intestine where it attaches to the anus, again being careful not to spill any intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity.
Cut the ribs from the sternum with the knife or a pair of game shears.
Spread open the chest cavity and remove the organs. Sever the windpipe to remove the lungs.
Sever the feet from the legs below the knees and elbows.
Push the hind legs toward the abdominal cavity as you pull the skin in the opposite direction. This motion removes the skin from the legs and is similar to removing a sock.
Sever the tail where it meets the body.
Pull the loose skin from the legs toward the squirrel's head. It should separate easily from the meat, but you can use your fingers to separate it from the meat if you reach a sticking point.
Push the front legs rearward to remove them from the skin.
Cut into the front shoulder to expose the shoulder joint, and remove each front leg by cutting through the connective tissue in the shoulder.
Cut from the front of each hindquarter toward the pelvis to expose the hip joint. Separate the hindquarter from the hip joint by cutting through the connective tissue.
Rinse the quarters in cold water, and soak them in a bowl of salt water for up to two hours prior to cooking to remove some of the "wild" flavor from the meat.
Add butter to a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the squirrel, and cook it until until it is lightly browned on both sides.
Remove the squirrel from the pan, and add the carrot, garlic, onion and bacon to the pan. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and the onion is soft.
Add the wine and thyme, and bring it to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for one minute.
Return the squirrel to the pan, and add just enough wine or water to cover the meat. Simmer for 90 minutes or until the squirrel is tender.
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- "Wild Game Cookbook"; David Kasabian, Anna Kasabian, Sharon Tully; 2008
- "The Everything Wild Game Cookbook"; Karen Eagle; 2006
- Gunnersden.com: American Wild Game Nutritional Values
- "Savor Wild Game Cookbook"; Chuck Johnson, Blanche Johnson; 2004
- It's best to clean and skin a squirrel as quickly as possible after it is killed. The skin is more pliable and there is less chance for the meat to spoil.
- Always check for shot or bullet fragments when rinsing the meat by looking for bruised areas and feeling for lumps.
Jack Kaltmann is a Las Vegas-based writer with more than 25 years of professional experience in corporate communications. He is a published author of several books and feature articles for national publications such as "American Artist" and "Inside Kung-Fu." Kaltmann holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Miami University and is a retired nationally certified personal trainer.