Squirrels: Fair Game Gets Tasty Reviews in Britain

squirrelsmall.thumbnail.jpgToday the New York Times waxes rhapsodic over Britain’s new love of gray squirrels as a dining delicacy.  The perky, pesky rodents aren’t native to the UK, and have been overtaking the habitat of the island’s iconic red squirrels. Along with being more aggressive and able to better digest acorns, the grays carry a virus to which the reds have no immunity, though there is evidence that reds are developing resistance to the squirrel parapoxvirus.

So in order to save the frisky, but failing, Sciurus vulgaris from the incursions of its American cousin, Sciurus carolinensis, the UK government announced a mass culling programme for the eastern grey squirrel in January 2006.  And now the the invasive but cute buggers are turning up on tables as a fancy food, like terrine of squirrel with crushed hazelnuts and squirrel pate. Fergus Henderson, the chef and co-owner of St. John restaurant in London prepares them in a manner

"to recreate the bosky woods they come from,” braising them with bacon, “pig’s trotter, porcini and whole peeled shallots to recreate the forest floor.” He serves it with wilted watercress “to evoke the treetops.”

The taste of squirrel meat is poetically described to reflect the nuts on which they dine, though it can be as high as 30% fat. Well, gosh I have my grandma’s 1953 edition of the Joy of Cooking which offers recipes for squirrel and muskrat, plus clever line drawings on how to skin them.

So in the spirit of frugality environmentalism and because I used to watch the Beverly Hillbillies and the Addams Family, both of which extolled the virtues of unique ingredients, I poked around on line and found that there are many ways to cook squirrel–Mike Huckabee admitted while in college he fried squirrel in a popcorn popper, not a recommended method; lots of the recipes involve Crock-Pots.

I don’t have a Crock-Pot. I also don’t have a gun–which seems to be a necessity since squirrel isn’t sold here in Los Angeles–though I am a good shot, which is important.  And then there’s this caveat–along with the rodents being hard to dress:

squirrel brains have been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease.

Maybe I’ll just use seitan for the "bosky woods" experience and serve Pink Squirrel cocktails instead

1 oz Creme de Noyaux
1 tbsp White Creme de Cacao
1 tbsp Light Cream

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.