Kentucky is one of a handful of states that offers a spring squirrel season. Much to the delight of my youngest son, Potroast, who thinks squirrel hunting is just about the best thing going. Be it with a shotgun or a .22 caliber air rifle, he makes life hard on the local population and keeps our freezer well stocked with squirrel meat.
Now I love fried squirrel and gravy, it’s one of my all-time favorites, particularly when paired with scrambled eggs and homemade biscuits. But too much of anything, no matter how good, gets tiresome after a bit. This recipe uses shredded squirrel meat and mushrooms cooked in a cream sauce. I like it served over egg noodles, but it works over rice as well.
Since Potroast isn’t picky about his squirrel take, we end up with a few older, tough squirrels on a fairly regular basis. This recipe starts out with a 20-minute stint in the pressure cooker to tenderize and cook the meat through. It is a great way to prepare even the most grizzled bushy tail. In fact, I often use this same method to tenderize a tough squirrel before breading and frying it, just with a bit less time in the pressure cooker.
2 large or 3 small squirrels, pressure cooked according to your cooker’s instructions, with meat picked from the bone and shredded into small pieces
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced, I used chanterelles
4 tablespoons of butter
1 large shallot, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 pint of heavy cream
½ cup sour cream, divided
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fresh basil, diced
1 teaspoon fresh Italian flat leafed parsley, diced
Start by pouring the appropriate amount of water (check your owner’s manual) into your pressure cooker. Insert the bottom rack and place the cleaned squirrels (whole or sectioned) directly onto the rack.
Insert the appropriate weight for your pressure cooker, for my 22qt. Mirro, I use the 15-pound weight and let it jiggle for 20 minutes to get fall-off-the-bone tenderness. If you are pressure cooking and plan to fry the meat, cut back to 10 to 15 minutes cooking time.
Once your squirrel has cooked the appropriate time, remove from heat and let the pressure cooker slowly cool down so that you can remove the lid. Take out the meat and allow it to cool so that it can be picked away from the bone.
While the meat is cooling, melt the butter in a large skillet and add the diced shallots. Stir till the shallots are tender and translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms and garlic and cook till tender. Add the squirrel meat to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Stir in the sour cream, heavy cream and Worcestershire sauce, then stir another 3 to 5 minutes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and check for taste. Add the fresh herbs and ¼ cup of cheese to the pan and stir to incorporate.
To serve, pour the sauce over egg noodles or rice and top with the remaining cheese.
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