Squirrel is one my favorite small game animals. They come in a variety of species and are wildly abundant throughout the world. With many of our states’ squirrel seasons finally open, it only seems to bring this dish to the table! Braised in rich, flavorful beer and infused with the earthiness of mushrooms, you can’t help but go “nuts” after the first bite!
- 4 ounces thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 squirrels, 2 pounds each, cut into 6 pieces (don’t dare discard the heads—put them in the pot as well)
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces mushrooms (I used baby bellas but porcini work fantastic as well)
- 2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeño, stemmed and thinly sliced (I used a serrano for added heat)
- 1 12-ounce bottle favorite beer (I like wheat beers or ambers)
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/4-cup all-purpose flour
- Fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish
To start this recipe, I recommend pouring an ice-cold beer, preferably the same type used for the braising! In my case, it’s Rivertown Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest Lager.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large, cast-iron Dutch oven, add the bacon, turn the heat to medium, and cook approximately 5 minutes or until browned and the fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
Season the squirrel liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Dust the pieces with flour. Cook in batches over medium-high heat, turning once until browned—about 8 minutes. Transfer the squirrel to the plate with the bacon. Add the onion, carrots, garlic, and jalapeño to the Dutch oven and cook over moderate heat until slightly softened, which should take about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Return the squirrel and bacon to the pan. Add the beer, chicken stock, and puree and bring to a boil.
Place covered in the preheated oven and cook until nearly fork-tender or approximately 1-1/2 hours. Uncover and adjust the heat to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Transfer the squirrel to a platter and boil the sauce until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Paired with homemade polenta, chopped parsley, and grated Parmesan, this one will the guests “barking” for more.
Be sure and share your own version of this recipe, thoughts, questions, and pictures with me. I want to hear from you. Post on OutdoorHub and also on my social media via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
Meat courtesy of Tyler Viars and his Hoyt!
Editor’s note: This recipe is the ninth in a series of several provided by Tyler Viars, a dedicated “forest to fork” hunter and professional chef. Click here to read last week’s recipe, a Southwest-style goat burger with griddled onions and avocado.
Images by Tina Marie Photography