Other Names:Ardilla (Spanish), écureuil (French), Eichhšrnchen (German), scoiattolo (Italian).

General Description:The squirrel is a tree-dwelling rodent that is widely hunted and eaten. The squirrel’s name comes from the Greek meaning “he who sits in the shadow of his tail.” Squirrels have a global distribution and are one of the few wild animals to have adapted to humans. The gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), the most common of the tree squirrels, has been traced back 50 million years. Squirrel meat, properly prepared, is delicious and succulent. It lends itself to savory braises and stews, can be pan-fried, fricasseed (simmered in gravy), or broiled. Stewing or braising is best for older animals.

Characteristics:Young squirrel has rosy pink to light red flesh that is tender with a pleasing flavor and little gaminess. The flesh of older squirrels is darker red and may require marinating or long cooking for tenderness.

How to Choose:The average gray squirrel is 15 inches long and weighs about 1 pound.

Amount to Buy:One small squirrel will serve one person.

Storage:Store refrigerated 1 to 2 days.

Preparation:Brunswick Stew:

  1. Cut up and trim the squirrel and place the pieces in a large kettle. Cover with water. Bring slowly to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender, skimming the surface occasionally.
  2. Remove the meat from the bones and return to the liquid. Add chopped bacon, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and whole small lima beans to the pot. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Simmer 1 hour.
  3. Add corn (frozen or fresh cut from the cob) and cook 10 minutes longer, or till tender.

Flavor Affinities:Bacon, barbecue sauce, cayenne, dry mustard, red wine, rosemary, sherry, sour cream, white wine.

from Quirk Books: