Now I know that I call myself The Country Tart and I am always yapping about all of the wild stuff that we ingest but anybody that really knows me will quickly agree that I am a little more (shock value) conversation than action on certain topics such as eating squirrel.
My virile and wild game harvesting husband brings home a lot of wild protein. I am pleased that my freezer is full with an assortment of game yet I am eager to gripe that one such protein that he brings home is the famed North American tree rat. It's just not natural for a man from New Jersey to bring home squirrel for dinner, right?
I've long joked that I would, on some random day when I was feeling extra brave, throw a bunch of squirrel into the crock pot and then quietly serve it to my none-the-wiser family. Of course, I am far too much of a blabbermouth to contain a secret of such magnitude so it goes without saying that I told anyone who'd listen (and even people who were not interested) that I indeed had some squirrel a-cookin' on this fine day: the Tenth of October, Twenty-Eleven.
Having long ago decided that allowing any fetched-varmint to find it's way to a plate by way of a slow cooker was the best possible way (i.e.- least involvement on my part), I pulled out the camo crock pot (thank you Bass Pro Shops) and got to work. Getting it out of the freezer and into the crock pot with some herbs de provence was the easy part. Getting the tiny pieces of tender meat off of the plethora of itty, bitty bones, however, took some iron-stomach skill.
A shot of liquid courage (doesn't everyone have a nip of Tempranillo while they debone squirrel?) and I went to town.
I got to thinking about all of the disgusting things I do regularly (for food, even) without thought. I've long outgrown the notion that cleaning blue crabs is a dirty job but let's face it, it's pretty gross. And I've cleaned all kinds of small-boned birds such as pheasant, quail and even snipe (really). What makes ANY of these beings superior to tree rats? Heck, I think half of the intrigue of the winter hunt that goes on around here is the fact that afterwards everyone sits around talking about how much they love the flavor of cock. Woodcock, that is.
After many years of joking, many years of threatening, and many, MANY a wasted life (sorry to squirrels and vegetarians everywhere), today really was the day. Today, I filled up the crock pot with as many squirrels as the 5.5 quart basin would hold and I cooked those tree rats.
At the end of a long day, I suppose anything cooked into a gravy made of bone stock and then topped with a sage & spelt shortbread might taste pretty damn good.
I am here to attest that I not only lived but would eat squirrel again.
After all, I am the Country Tart!