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Do You Eat Squirrel Brains?

The other day my four-year-old daughter asked if we could keep a live animal as a pet. She thought either a dog or a squirrel would do. Clearly she takes after her paternal grandfather, who once kept both a porcupine and a deer. While he was a Marine stationed out at Pickle Meadows.

Anyway, it’s squirrel week. I’m sure you’re all celebrating in your own way. Are any of you

  1. Fred Cole

    I have no tips to help you, but I want to do everything I can to encourage you to kill more squirrels.  They are a nuisance and their populations are exploding.

    My cats Church (pictured) and Gorby, do their part, but clearly more needs to be done.

  2. Doctor Bean

    Very very rarely I read something that makes me happy to be keeping the Jewish religious dietary laws. Thank you for writing such a thing. On a separate point, given the risk of prion diseases (i.e. mad cow) I think abstinence from eating any mammal’s brain is wise.

  3. The King Prawn

    Wild game meat is not for sale in the U.S. so you’ll have to hunt your own. I’m not sure if trapping or shooting is appropriate for squirrel.

  4. Vermonster
    Doctor Bean: given the risk of prion diseases (i.e. mad cow) I think abstinence from eating any mammal’s brain is wise.

    As a retired pathologist, I agree with Doctor Bean about avoiding the consumption (and handling without gloves) of mammalian neural tissue.

    I remember eating squirrel one time. It reminded me of chicken, except you had to avoid biting down on the lead shot remaining in the meat.  

    So make sure you extract all of the lead from the meat to avoid both mental and dental damage!

  5. Bureaucrat859

    That reminded me of this song.

  6. Pilli

    One of the myths I heard while growing up in East Tennessee was of “barking” a squirrel.  Picture the squirrel on all fours on a tree limb.  The trick was to shoot between the squirrel and the limb.  The shock wave from the passing bullet was supposedly enough to either stun or kill the squirrel causing it to fall out of the tree undamaged to be collected.

    It was better to take some bark from the tree than to hit the squirrel directly hence “barking.”

  7. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Doctor Bean: Very very rarely I read something that makes me happy to be keeping the Jewish religious dietary laws. Thank you for writing such a thing. On a separate point, given the risk of prion diseases (i.e. mad cow) I think abstinence from eating any mammal’s brain is wise. · 11 minutes ago

    My husband has very good friends who keep Kosher and I love talking to them about what’s easier or more difficult to keep among the laws. They say they have literally no desire for lobster but that bacon is another issue. Late one night my husband got a call from one of the friends. They’d just had duck (I think it was duck?) bacon from a kosher restaurant in California and found it transcendent. Worth calling about late at night. Still cracks me up.

  8. GadgetGal

    Hi Mollie,

    Wrap your mind around this one–I live only 75 miles from you as the crow flies and muskrat and squirrel are recalled fondly by the old-timers here on the shore.  As far as I know, they are still local fare.

    Com’on down–I’ll take you to a crab picking in a converted chicken house.  There is nothing more delicious than the blue crab of the Chesapeake Bay.  But you haven’t lived until you have had a soft shell.  So stop by on your next trip to Ocean City!  We can finish off with a piece of Smith Island cake.  I’m drooling already.

  9. EJHill

    Mrs. Hemingway… PETA on line two…

    Old-Man.jpg

  10. The Mugwump

    There won’t be a brain available to eat if you know how to shoot.

  11. Madcap
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    My husband has very good friends who keep Kosher and I love talking to them about what’s easier or more difficult to keep among the laws. They say they have literally no desire for lobster but that bacon is another issue. Late one night my husband got a call from one of the friends. They’d just had duck (I think it was duck?) bacon from a kosher restaurant in California and found it transcendent. Worth calling about late at night. Still cracks me up. · 11 minutes ago

    If you’re going to fake pork products, duck is really the way to go. Duck prosciutto is transcendent, and you can make it at home.

    Fake meat products, particularly for highly processed foods, are quite good, but they freak a lot of people out. My friends who grew up eating kosher are completely freaked out by soy pepperoni and dairy cheese pizza, while the people who grew up eating meat and dairy combos think this is an awesome way around dietary laws.

  12. flownover

    Plenty of recipes on internet. One thing I remember as a child was the warning to remove the sacs behind rear legs and carefully gut not to pierce bladder.  

    Other than that, you probably have those little gray squirrels in the city, while we are overrun by red squirrels in my yard in a smaller town. (but I live in a place where I can drive 15 minutes and it looks like the set from Winter’s Bone)

    Maybe Hilary Rosen can give you some hints, given her hard-working nature, I just bet she holds down a job (SKDKnickerbocker in fact) , raises her own kids ( with whatever partner she’s shacking with), and kills and cleans her own meat ( out back of the Whole Foods) . 

    Some of the DNC people are pretty tough.

  13. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    EasternShoreGirl: Hi Mollie,

    Wrap your mind around this one–I live only 75 miles from you as the crow flies and muskrat and squirrel are recalled fondly by the old-timers here on the shore.  As far as I know, they are still local fare.

    Com’on down–I’ll take you to a crab picking in a converted chicken house.  There is nothing more delicious than the blue crab of the Chesapeake Bay.  But you haven’t lived until you have had a soft shell.  So stop by on your next trip to Ocean City!  We can finish off with a piece of Smith Island cake.  I’m drooling already. · 31 minutes ago

    I’m getting in the car now.

  14. Greg Cook

    Here’s a clip from Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word that shows how a restaurant in London prepares it.  They don’t mention the brains, but they do recommend having it with a glass of Côtes du Rhône.

  15. Percival

    I’ve no experience with cooking squirrels, but after years of internecine struggle with the red squirrels raiding my mom’s birdfeeders, she finally hit on a solution: give them something they would rather eat.  She started putting out ears of field corn.  The squirrels forgot all about the bird seed and went straight for the corn.  Now, they’re all too big to get up onto the birdfeeders even if they wanted to.  One of them is almost big enough to saddle.  They also have gotten pretty chippy about the corn — if the supply is exhausted, they stand on a fence post next to the window and stare in at the inhabitants.

    “Hey!  You in there! Get a move on!”

  16. Liberty Dude

    No tips from me, but I’m reminded of this scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdiXSsFp29s

    Apparently squirrels are high in cholesterol; so watch yourself!

  17. Gojira

    I grew up in Shreveport, LA during the economic loveliness of the early 80s.  We hunted and fished most of our meat (I’ve even eaten groundhog).  Squirrel can be prepared just about any way rabbit can.  We usually cooked them whole (headless, gutted, skinned) like a pot roast, with carrots & potatoes.  As mentioned, you must watch out for BBs, unless you are using Season Shot.  We never ate brains, but probably only because it would be extra work to retrieve.   I was too poor to wash my elbows.  Too poor to pick up the trash in the yard.  Like Hell I was going to go digging around in squirrel head with a pen knife.  Plus it was way too hot.

    ~Jimm

  18. Carreau

    Back when I was a lad I remember my mother making a squirrel caserole for the 1st time. Unfortunately she underestimated the strength of squirrel meat and used similar ingredients to those one would use when making a chicken casserole, with the result that the taste of squirrel overwhelmed the taste of everything else. For comparison purposes, squirrel meat is slightly stronger tasting than rabbit although perhaps not quite as strong as partridge so plan the spices you add to it and the vegetables you cook alongside it accordingly.

  19. Israel P.
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    EasternShoreGirl: Hi Mollie,

    Wrap your mind around this one–I live only 75 miles from you as the crow flies and muskrat and squirrel are recalled fondly by the old-timers here on the shore.  As far as I know, they are still local fare.

    Com’on down–I’ll take you to a crab picking in a converted chicken house.  There is nothing more delicious than the blue crab of the Chesapeake Bay.  But you haven’t lived until you have had a soft shell.  So stop by on your next trip to Ocean City!  We can finish off with a piece of Smith Island cake.  I’m drooling already. · 31 minutes ago

    I’m getting in the car now. · 25 minutes ago

    Be careful not to run over a squirrel.

  20. Western Chauvinist

    I’ve eaten squirrel. Tastes like dark meat chicken — not bad.

    My Uncle Doctor Bob was an expert squirrel hunter (~Paules is right — no brains or lead to consume). Mom says her mother canned it during the Depression.

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