|Our water tank was low, so don't make fun of our paper plates and bowls|
(or my watermelon car air freshener -- I love those things).
People, if you make squirrel stew like I do, it fucking rules. (I get my killer soup/stew making skills from my Ma.) I would challenge anyone to think it's anything but rich chicken.
Crock pots can be evil devices in that whatever you're making can slowly become a gross blob of unappetizing slop, but do it like I did, and you'll be up to your ears in delicious, hearty, mouth-watering stew that you can't quite get enough of. Make some fresh, crusty bread and maybe whip up a quick side salad, and you have a well-rounded meal fit for royalty.
Just be sure to check the liver of every squirrel you kill (to make sure that the meat is fit for human consumption) because as I like to say, burgundy is just dandy, but anything else doesn't belong anywhere on your plate (you heard that here first).
Before doing anything, FREEZE THAT MEAT for a couple of days -- it needs some chilling to tenderize it a bit. Then throw on some tunes and thaw it enough in either hot water or the microwave so that you can separate all the leg and back strap pieces that you previously froze together. Try not to cook it at all if you use the microwave.
Turn up the volume, and PARBOIL THE MEAT (allows you to strip the meat off the bones and also get rid of any remaining fur). You will need:
- The front and back legs as well as back straps of five squirrels, give or take.
- Half a very roughly cut large, white onion.
- Some sort of citrus juice. I threw in a dollop of frozen, concentrated orange juice.
- Lots of salt and pepper.
- Enough water to submerge the meat in whatever cooking vessel you're using.
Boil those fuckers up on medium-high for an hour or two. Drain. Compost the cooked onion. Remove any remaining fur from the meat with some disposable vinyl or nitrile gloves (it comes off a lot easier after parboiling), then using your fingers, extract the meat from the bones, discarding any really icky looking pieces that you don't think you'd be down for eating.
Taste one of the pieces you saved. Realize it tastes pretty good, and then realize again how good this will be in stew.
THROW EVERYTHING IN A CROCK POT AND COOK ON HIGH FOR EXACTLY EIGHT HOURS. You will need:
- About a half pound of bacon, sliced (I've been told Benton's is the bomb, but I just used a supermarket brand).
- The other half of that large, white onion, finely diced (more if you're an onion freak like me).
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced (I just put that in there for the color -- carrots are kinda iffy for me).
- 1 celery stick, diced (eh, more if you want, but celery is a weird vegetable).
- A few garlic cloves, minced (maybe a few more, especially if you married someone of Italian descent like I did).
- 3 small red potatoes, peeled and quartered (potatoes are the blood of stew -- even more so than meat, and this is not up for debate).
- Half a lemon, squeezed.
- About 6 cups of chicken or whatever stock you have on hand (water will do in a pinch -- just add more sea salt).
- Lots of sea salt and even more fresh ground pepper. DON'T BE SHY. Under-seasoned soup/stew is the devil.
- A spicy seasoning like Tabasco or Dave's, unless you're a sissy. Don't be embarrassed.
- A bit of cornstarch for thickening at the end. You'll have to use some judgment here.
Throw everything but the cornstarch in the crock pot. If you see an ingredient in your cupboard or pantry that you think might be an asset, don't be afraid to use it. Malt vinegar, mustard, honey, herbs, mirin, and/or that sad bottle of some sauce in your refrigerator that needs to be used before it goes bad, DO IT. Taste and go, folks. When in doubt, add more lemon or salt. Lemon and salt make everything better.
The squirrel meat will start to fall apart at about hour seven. This is muy bueno.
Just before hour eight, toss in some cornstarch to thicken it up to stew level. Also, add a fat patty of butter at the very end of everything. Sneak it in there if your husband protests at the idea of butter in soup/stew. Squirrel meat needs lots of fat -- don't question my authority on this.
Consume. Revel in the idea of eating squirrel meat. Throw the finger at the doubters. Then invite them over for dinner sometime. They will thank you for it.