What Does Squirrel Taste Like?
Many consumers are now more conscious about the food that they eat. And it’s not just about which food is good for the body. They are also starting to look into food that is good for the environment as well. That is why there is a rise in the number of people who are turning to vegetarianism and veganism. It is because eating vegetables is friendlier to the environment.
However, some people simply cannot give up meat. That is why chefs all over the world are trying to promote alternatives to beef and pork. As it turns out, squirrel meat is highly sustainable. While eating this type of meat conjures an image of desperation for food, it is actually extremely delicious as long as you know how to cook it right.
How does squirrel meat taste?
Squirrels belong to the rodent family so it is so hard to convince people to give it a try. However, once one has gotten over the hesitation of trying out something that may seem unappealing, people will find out that squirrel meat is uniquely tasty.
It can be said that squirrel meat tastes very similar to rabbit meat. However, the gamey taste of squirrel is much subtler than that ofrabbit meat. Additionally, it has a nutty yet sweet taste. This is because the squirrels naturally consume almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts. In some places, squirrel meat tastes mildly sweeter because they eat fruits and vegetables. The taste of squash and carrots affects the sweetness of the meat.
So, if you are looking for meat from a sustainable source that tastes a little closer to what you are used to eating, try out squirrel meat. It’s just a nuttier, sweeter, more intensely flavored kind of meat.
Benefits of eating squirrel meat
As flavorful as the meat may taste, it is actually the health benefits that one can get from squirrel meat that makes it very popular.
First of all, this type of meat is low in saturated fat and carbohydrates. According to studies, a pound of meat from this animal contains less than one gram of fat but six grams of protein. Additionally, it only contains 34 calories.
Besides the health benefits, some communities are also pushing for the consumption of squirrel meat because it has a very minimal, almost zero, carbon footprint. Some people also encourage eating this meat to prevent wasting food in places that conduct culling.
Different cooking methods for squirrel meat
Before anything else, it is important to note that squirrel meat has a high bone-to-meat ratio. Additionally, the bones of this animal are smaller than your typical wild game. To avoid any choking hazard and unpleasantness, it is ideal to remove the bones before cooking the cuts. For this process, it is good to use a sharp knife to cut into the meat. If you make slits near the bone, it will be easier to pull it out afterward.
Slow cooking has always been a favored cooking method for squirrel meat. To seal in the moisture, it is suggested that the meat be browned before cooking with vegetables and liquids. Once this is done, you can place it in a casserole dish with stock, tomatoes, and vegetables. Then you can slow cook the casserole for up to eight hours in 100-degree heat.
Roasting is also a good cooking method for wild game such as squirrel. However, like most lean meat, squirrel meat dries up really fast. That is why it is important to baste the cuts well with fat or oil. Just like the process of browning, it will seal in the meat’s juices and keep it from drying up. If you are going to roast the meat, cover it with fats first and then let it cook in an oven set to 190 degrees for up to an hour.
Barbecuing is also a great idea because the squirrel meat’s flavor is enhanced by barbeque sauce. Make sure to marinate the meat overnight to allow the sweet flavor of the barbeque sauce to permeate the cuts and seal in the juices. Additionally, it will make the meat tender.
You can also opt to fry the meat. Parboiling the cuts first will help you remove the small bones from the meat. Once this is done, you can dredge the meat with breadcrumbs and pan-fry them until crispy.
What flavors go well with squirrel meat?
Squirrel goes surprisingly well with all kinds of flavors. Of course, with its natural nuttiness and sweetness, it is only natural that it will pair well with berries and nuts. However, it is also a great ingredient to cook with tomato-based or cream-based sauces.
Squirrel meat dries out easily so cooking it with oily meats is always a good idea. Recipes that combine the meat with sausages and bacon are always received well. The fats from these ingredients coat the meat of the wild game and trap all the juices inside.
Herbs like parsley, sage, thyme, and rosemary bring out the natural sweetness of the squirrel so including this in your marinades or stew will make the dish really stand out. Don’t forget to use spices like chili, paprika, and cayenne. These will provide a nice contrast to the flavor of the meat.
Don’t limit yourself to recipes that are written for squirrel meat. You can also use this as a substitute for meats like chicken or rabbit. You just need to cook the dish longer and at a lower temperature to ensure that the meat becomes tender. If possible, brown the meat cuts first before cooking it so that you can trap the liquids in and prevent it from becoming dry and rubbery.
Eating squirrel meat might seem unsavory to you because of its association with rodents. Don’t prevent yourself from having a nice meal by refusing to try it out. Squirrel is good for you, with its low caloric and high protein content. It is highly sustainable too. If you use the right method and flavors in cooking the squirrel meat, you will come up with a surprisingly delicious dish. Give this meat a try and discover new flavors.