The recipe,Squirrel au Vin, or simply, Squirrel with Wine, first became popular in the French countryside as a tasty way to use up tough old roosters that were no longer needed. Old rooster, old squirrel, there isn’t much difference in the tenderness department. The secret to tenderizing the squirrel is the overnight marinade. The red wine, olive oil and lemon juice begin to break down the meat, making it fork tender on the table after the cooking process. This is another one-pot meal that can be started on the stovetop and finished low and slow in the oven. Perhaps the most complicated part of the recipe is peeling the pearl onions. A handy trick is to drop the onions in pot of boiling water for one to two minutes, then scoop them out and drop them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. The quick blanch will loosen the skin so that it slips right off the tiny onion.
- 1/2 lb bacon slices, diced
- 20 pearl onions, peeled, or 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 3 squirrels, quartered
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- Several fresh thyme sprigs
- Several fresh parsley sprigs
- 1/2 lb button mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 4 Tbsp butter
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- Place the squirrel into a glass or plastic container or zip-style bag. Mix the marinade ingredients and pour over the squirrel meat. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
- Brown bacon on medium-high heat in a Dutch oven big enough to hold the squirrel, about 10 minutes. Remove the cooked bacon, set aside. Keep the bacon fat in the pan. Add onions to the pan.
- Stir to brown and soften, about 10 minutes, then remove the onions and set aside. Add the squirrel to the pan and brown well, on all sides, about 10 minutes. Halfway through the browning, add the garlic and sprinkle the squirrel with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs. Add back the bacon and onions. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the squirrel and onions to a separate platter. Remove the bay leaves, herb sprigs, garlic, and discard.
- Add mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to high. Boil quickly and reduce the liquid by half until it just begins to thicken. Return the squirrel and onions to the pan, stir well, then cover the pan and place it into a 300-degree oven for one hour. Remove from oven, uncover to cool a bit, then stir in the butter until sauce is creamy.
Recipe courtesy of Michael Pendley/Realtree Outdoors/Timber 2 Table.