By Michael Pendley
Looking for a fun and inexpensive way to introduce a new hunter to the sport? How about a squirrel hunt? Seasons are long in most states, squirrels abound on most public lands and permission to hunt small game on private land is usually easier to procure than that for popular big-game animals.
The best part? Squirrels are delicious.
Use a Dutch oven over your evening campfire to cook up the day’s take. If you aren’t camping, this same recipe will work just fine on the stovetop. The slow-cooking process tenderizes the squirrels, making them wonderful to eat.
3 gray or two larger fox squirrels, sectioned into leg and back pieces.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
½-inch oil, shortening, bacon grease or lard in the bottom of a heavy Dutch oven
3 yellow onions, chopped
4 cups milk or buttermilk
2 to 4 cups water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
Start by placing your camp-style (with legs) Dutch oven over eight to 10 coals. Add your oil of choice to a depth of about ½-inch.
While the oil heats, evenly season the squirrel with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning.
Toss the squirrel pieces in one cup of flour to evenly coat the surface of the meat.
Once your oil is hot enough to make a pinch of flour bubble and sizzle, gently add the squirrel to the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and fry the pieces for six to eight minutes or until the surfaces are crisp and golden brown. Flip the squirrel pieces, return the lid to the pot and repeat until both sides are done. Remove the squirrel from the pot and set aside.
Add the remaining cup of flour to the oil to make a roux. Continuously stir the roux until it takes on a golden-brown color, about eight to10 minutes.
Add the chopped onions and continue cooking until the onions have softened, about another five minutes. Again, stir the roux constantly to prevent it from burning at this point.
Add the buttermilk and two cups of water. Stir until the gravy begins to thicken. Add additional water as needed if the gravy is too thick. It needs to be thin at this point, just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Test for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Return the squirrel pieces to the pot, nestling them down into the onion gravy. Place the lid on the Dutch oven. Add six to eight coals or burning charcoal briquets to the top of the lid and allow the squirrel to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the meat is tender.
For stovetop preparation, over medium heat, complete the steps above up to adding the squirrel back to the gravy. Once the squirrel is in the gravy, cover the pot and place it into a preheated 300-degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until the meat is tender.
Try Out More Recipes with NSSF’s Game Meat Cooking Series
Where hunter and classically trained chef Georgia Pellegrini shares recipes from her book, “Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time.”