Squirrel Kebabs Don’t Make for Good Photos (or food?)

As if British food doesn’t already have a bad reputation, a chef in the U.K. had to go along and:

  • create “squirrel kebabs” and put it on the menu
  • pose with a photo of a skinned, headless squirrel carcass in the U.K. Sun in what may be the most unappetizing food photo ever (do not click through unless you are prepared to be disturbed. Or are disturbed).
  • Full story: Chili Sauce With Your Squirrel?

Celebrated British Chef Gamely Prepares Squirrel With Walnuts

As the U.K. continues to grapple with an overpopulation of non-native grey squirrels in the U.K., one celebrity chef has an idea: treat them like game, and throw ’em in the stew pot.

Marco Pierre White, host of the new program Marco’s Great British Feast, traveled to the posh Somerleyton Estate in England to feature “local produce” and game on his show. While grey squirrels are technically not local (being from the U.S. and all) they are quite convenient. So, it’s not surprise they ended up in some of his recipes. From the article Squirrel on the menu:

“The meal – squirrel with walnuts – was cooked in the kitchens at the estate’s award-winning Fritton House hotel where the fruit of the day’s shoot was also made into a squirrel and mushroom pie.”

Says White:

“I was surprised to discover that squirrel is considered a delicacy in certain parts of the UK and quite widely eaten. Having tried it I can see why.

“We tend to be squeamish about eating this small mammal but, when you think about it, it’s no different to eating rabbit.”

Squeamish Squirrel Lovers: Don’t Read This

As I’ve mentioned many times before, the U.K. is embroiled in a big squirrel controversy. The native red squirrels are being squeezed out by the grey squirrels, which were imported from the U.S.

There has been all sorts of suggested solutions to keep red squirrels from dying out, but this latest one is really taking it pretty far: A butcher is selling grey squirrel meat for about $6.82 a squirrel. Turns out people feel more ethical when eating grey squirrels, and it’s becoming quite popular.

“”I wasn’t sure at first and wondered how many people would really eat it. Now I take every squirrel I can get my hands on,” said David Ridley, who runs Ridley’s Fish and Game shop in Corbridge, Northumberland.  “I’ve had days when I’ve managed to get 60 of them and they sell straight away. Squirrel meat is moist and sweet because it’s diet has been berries and nuts.”

The meat, which is said to taste like a cross between lamb and duck, is also low in fat.

Read the full article, here: Big Demand for Squirrel Meat

Squirrel Recipe: Brunswick Stew Made With Squirrels

Right now, the internet is chock-full of news stories about the start of squirrel hunting season, with plenty of outdoor writers either waxing nostalgic about hunting for squirrels as children, or lamenting the decline of the popularity of squirrel hunting. And, there’s also no shortage of news stories on deadly squirrel hunting accidents, like this man who died while hunting in California or this teen in Kentucky.

But few of the stories I have read give you any information on what you should do with the squirrel once you’ve killed it and cleaned it.

Until today! This news article from the Detroit Free Press, entitled ‘Why Hunt Squirrels?” includes a recipe for Brunswick Stew.  I don’t want to rip off the Free Press by running the recipe here, but here’s a partial ingredients list, if you’re curious:

• Four squirrels, skinned and cut up.

• One cup of creamed corn.
• Three pounds of peeled and diced new potatoes.

Also, this article has quite a few variation of the stew, which also can be made with pork, chicken, rabbit (or, I guess, any protein source.)

Squirrel Hunting Season Starts – And I’m Perplexed

(Minnesota Squirrel Hunting 2006, originally uploaded by LeDeathman.)

Sorry for the alarmingly graphic photo. Most “squirrel hunting” photos on Flickr show the smug hunter, holding up his kill — always by the tail – for the camera. This one, at least, looks a little less ridiculous.

Growing up in South Texas, I’m used to hunting — of deer, quail, javelina (hog) and dove. But squirrels? No. So perhaps that’s why it strikes me as an absurd source of prey for hunting. Squirrels are tiny. And so easy to bait with some peanuts or other tasty morsel. I guess I don’t get it: Where’s the thrill in shooting a squirrel?

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I understand how, traditionally, squirrel meat is a better option than no meat. And, given my Texas background, I also see the benefit of population control via hunting. But I can’t support the hunting of red squirrels — the species in the photo above — because they are in decline everywhere.

I also can’t support bragging about killing squirrels. That’s a bit like bragging about being able to tie your own shoelaces. (I mean, is it that challenging of a sport when every squirrel hunting article has a quote like this: “Squirrel hunting is a great way to introduce kids to hunting; there are plenty of them, and kids have a greater chance at bagging a squirrel than they do a deer.” (ed note: “Bagging” a squirrel?)

If you’d like to read more about squirrel hunting, this article from the Lafayette, Louisiana Daily Advertiser makes for fascinating reading. Like this gem from Wildlife and Fisheries commissioner Henry Mouton.

“Squirrel is a delicious animal to eat,” Mouton said. “Cajun chefs make it without a recipe; they just add a little of this, and a little of that. Then we’ll sit around six to eight hours drinking beer, watching football and talking about hunting and fishing until that meat is almost falling off the bone.”

Difficult Choices: Squirrels on the Pill, or Squirrels in Your Casserole

Squirrel Nutkin

This headline, from U.K. Daily Mail, will not exactly improve the public image of bad British food:

Squirrels on the pill? Put the pests in a casserole!

Sadly, grey squirrels are prolifically proliferating across Great Britain, leading to a host of problems, including, says this columnist, the decimation of “our indigenous red squirrel – the original Squirrel Nutkin (shown above), which is far prettier and much less aggressive than the grey.”

One solution is birth control. This columnist’s other idea is to eat them. Although I have given up vegetarianism, I still can’t stomach the idea of eating squirrel meat, even if it’s baked into a casserole. But I understand his fretting — it’s not good to have an introduced species wiping out other squirrel species and other flora/fauna.

The columnist insists “the meat tastes like a cross between chicken and rabbit…”

Only in the U.K. would they make a taste comparison to rabbit. Another creature I’ve never eaten, and don’t plan to.