Sorry pork, squirrel is the other white meat. Squirrel meat is tender and lean with a mild flavor, and it’s a fantastic wild game alternative to pork and chicken. Plus, it can often be prepared using many of the same techniques and recipes. While squirrels can be cooked in an infinite number of ways, for me, nothing beats the simple, classic fried squirrel.
Now, I’m not talking about nasty city squirrels pumped full of dumpster pizza, sidewalk french fries, and cigarette butts. Squirrels in the wild eat a diet consisting primarily of acorns and other tree nuts, which makes their meat healthy and flavorful.
Fried squirrel is one of those recipes that’s perfect for introducing people to cooking and eating wild game. It’s familiar enough that even squeamish and picky eaters are willing to try it out of curiosity, and it’s easy enough to cook that practically anyone can do it.
Plus, the results are delicious enough to turn even staunch skeptics. I once brought a tray of fried squirrel to a local bar and handed it out to the regulars, city slickers, who ate every last piece with gusto.
But, like fried chicken, not all fried squirrels are created equal. If not prepared properly, it can be chewy and downright underwhelming. The trick to perfect fried squirrel is paying attention to the details and following a few simple steps to the letter.
First, marinate the squirrel in buttermilk or a lightly salted brine. Then, give the meat a thorough and layered dredging in flour. Finally, finish the squirrel in a hot oven after it’s been fried in oil to crispy perfection.
Each step serves a vital role in making the most delicious squirrel you’ve ever had. The marinade softens and flavors the meat, the dredging adds crispy layers of breading to the outside and seals in moisture, and the final step of baking after frying ensures that the meat is tender and cooked through.
So the next time you bring home a pile of tree rats, follow these simple steps and enjoy the best fried squirrel of your life.
Ingredients for Fried Squirrel
- 1 squirrel, quartered
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Oil for frying
- Clean and quarter the squirrel and then cut the body right behind the rib cage creating two pieces: the saddle and abdomen section.
- Place the squirrel pieces in about 2 1/2 cups of buttermilk and refrigerate overnight.
- Combine the flour with the salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Then, make an egg wash in a separate dish by beating 2 eggs into 1/2 cup of buttermilk.
- Drain the marinated squirrel and toss it in the flour dredge, then fully dip it in the egg wash, and quickly toss it back into the flour. You want to coat the pieces with as much flour as possible to build up a nice coating.
- Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.
- Fill a large skillet, dutch oven, or deep fryer with oil and heat on medium-low until the oil reaches about 350 degrees. To test, you can wet your fingers and flick tiny droplets of water into the oil. If it sizzles and spits, it’s ready. If the moisture from the egg wash seeps through the breading while preparing the oil, toss the pieces of squirrel in the flour again immediately before frying.
- Fry the squirrel 1 to 2 pieces at a time until golden brown on all sides, making sure each piece has plenty of room and the oil temperature doesn’t drop too rapidly.
- Rest each piece on a wire rack. When all pieces are finished frying, place the rack in the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping the pieces about every 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle lightly with salt and enjoy.