Happy rainy Sunday to you! We have a wonderful cold front moving through Oklahoma right now, bringing rain showers and putting our temps in the low 80’s. It’s a beautiful and a welcome break from summer.
While it was still feeling like summer on Friday, I made fried squirrel for the first time. Now as soon as you soon as read squirrel you probably imagined that I must be a toothless hillbilly that sits outside blowing poor little squirrels away with a rifle all day, right? Well, I’m not! I’m very much a city gal but I am a bit country at heart. Despite all that, I absolutely love trying new things, especially when it treats my carnivorous side.
I was given the squirrel by my Grandma at a family reunion a few weeks back and left it in the freezer while I figured out what I wanted to do with it. I wasn’t afraid of it, by any means, I just needed the proper time to make it. And this Friday was finally that day! I soaked it over night in a buttermilk mixture and fried it the next day. I served it with macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, kale, sliced tomatoes and of course, gravy made from the drippings.
I’m not sure how to describe squirrel to anyone who isn’t already a bit adventurous with meats. See, I like rabbits too and I’d compare it to rabbit, but if you haven’t ever had rabbit that doesn’t help. So let’s back up to chicken, its like a small, buttery chicken, but better. I had read around and many people called it a “buttery” meat and it really is. The meat holds so much flavor and its very moist, almost melts in your mouth. It does have many small bones, so you need to eat slowly and be aware of all those little bones.
Where do you get squirrels? I’m not really sure, mine came all the way from South Caroline and was given to me. You can hunt squirrel but you need to be sure you hunt in season, it’s illegal to hunt any animal/bird out of season. Squirrel season generally runs from mid May to the following January, but you should check with your local Hunting and Game Department to be sure. Also be aware it is illegal to use a firearm in the city limits, this includes pellet guns in most cities.
Now down to how I cooked the squirrel, I started with an overnight soak. I got mine in a little late, generally I like my meat to soak 24hrs but this one got about 20. I used a butter milk soak and added herbs. I’m horrible about exact measurements for things like this, I add by eye. But I’ll give you be best estimate.
2 Cups Buttermilk
5 Tbs Salt
4 Tbs Paprika
3 Tbs Chili Powder
1 Tsp Oregan
1 Tsp Thyme
1 Tsp Sage
2 Tbs Onion powder [or you can use fresh chopped onion]
1 Tbs Garlic powder [again, you can use fresh]
Combine all ingredients and add your meat. Cover and chill over night, up to 24hrs. You can adjust the amount of ingredients to suit the amount of meat you are cooking. Adding additional herbs can also change the flavor, if you love a herb, add it.
Now, onto the frying!
2 Cups Flour
3 Tbs Paprika
3 Tbs Chili Powder
Salt & Pepper
3 Cups Vegetable Oil
Pour Vegetable oil into a medium frying pan and heat to medium heat. You can test the heat by throwing a pinch of flour in.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together, set aside [I suggest sitting this right next to the stove as it’s the last stop before the meat goes into the frying pan].
Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and beat until blended, set this beside your flour bowl.
Your squirrel should be cleaned, prepped and ideally soaked overnight by this point. You just need to remove it from the soak to begin.
Dip the squirrel into the eggs, coat all sides. Place the squirrel into the flour and cover it until it is well coated. Take the same piece back into the egg and cover in again, then back to the flour. This is double dipping, it gives you a nice, well coated meat. When it fries you’ll have a nice crisp crust. Prep several pieces in this manor until you have enough to go into the frying pan. I like to add them all at once, it makes it easier to time the cook.
Add your squirrel pieces into the hot oil and cover. Let the squirrel cook for about 5 minutes and then turn it over using a pair of tongs. After around 10 minutes your meat should be cooked. You can check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer if you have one, treat this as poultry. Or you may pull a piece out and cut it open with a knife to check the meat. Make sure you keep your heat medium, if it gets too hot the crust will burn long before the meat cooks. And the drippings will stick and burn on the bottom of the pans. It’s a hot mess, literally.
Here is a tip! I hope you read this entire recipe before you try on your own. My squirrel was broke into 6 pieces: Two legs, Two Arms and two rib pieces [x2 since I have two squirrels]. Cook the arms and legs separate from the ribs, they’re thicker and need the extra time to cook. The ribs cook much faster because they’re thin.
You could use this same recipe for any meat: chicken, rabbit and even steaks for chicken fried steak. The herbs in the soak add so much flavor and putting some of it into the fry batter just helps continue the flavor theme. We even made a gravy from the drippings to complement the fry and top the potatoes.
I had the company of my cousin for this meal and she’s an amazing guide to have in the kitchen. She’s a culinary grad and lived in Italy for two years, during which time she learned a lot cooking with the women around her. She made the kale, which is excellent and showed me how to make my gravy properly. I always make lumpy gravy, its a travesty of my cooking skills. But I won’t anymore, now I understand how to make my roux and keep the lumps out!
So this is my squirrel. What’s next on the menu? I hear rattlesnake is good… anyone have rattlesnake?