Squirrel Barbecue

squirrel barbecue

Last Sunday I was on barbecue duty chez Rick and Su in Golders GreenOli expressed a keen interest in squirrel and ordered 5 from The Wild Meat Company. Rest assured, these are grey squirrel and not our native red variety. Grey squirrels were introduced to Britain from America in 1876 – they are a larger species (which gives them a competitive edge) and sadly they carry a disease which kills our own red ones (now an endangered species). There are approximately 2.5 million grey squirrels in the UK and aside from threatening the red squirrel population, they do a considerable amount of damage to woodlands and parks, therefore, grey squirrel are regularly culled as per rabbits and deer. In my opinion, they taste pretty good, so why not eat them!

wild meat

In the meantime, I came across some other exotic meats at Kezie Foods and they were having a sale!

making kebabs

I arrived to a flurry of activity. Su and Groucho were busy making kebabs with chicken and lamb hearts,

mini peppers

mini peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.

celeriac salad

Oli started to make a celeriac salad, slicing the vegetables wafer thin with a Mandoline
…he cut his finger early on, so I took over.

asparagus and pea pasta

Rabina made a beautiful asparagus and pea salad, along with a spinach and orange salad (which I somehow missed).

bhel puri

Rick made a delicious, crunchy Bhel Puri – a savoury dish from India, typically containing puffed rice, potatoes, onions and tamarind sauce.

fish house punch

Rick and Su’s son Sam (top mixologist), sadly had to work, but suggested a cocktail for a Sunday afternoon.

fish house punch on tap

Rick obligingly mixed the Fish House Punch beforehand, so that we had it on tap!

quail egg tarts

With kebabs all made, Su and Groucho turned their hand to quail egg fancies – I was relieved not to get the job cracking lots of quail’s eggs without breaking a yolk – it’s hard work.

garden party

With guests in attendance, it was time to light the fire.

sous-vide beef and pork

First to be burnt were the beef short ribs (A.K.A. oven busters) and pork belly slices – both pre cooked sous-vide for several days.

flamin’ meat

Of course, as soon as I picked up my camera there was a forrest fire, but no harm done. The beef and pork just needed a little scorching to crispen up the fat and caramelise the sugars.

beef short ribs

These short ribs were probably the most tender I’ve ever eaten.

gran cerdo

Bridget arrived with a top red wine from Spain, that had us all laughing – Gran Cerdo.

Joseph Barnes Wines say:This hugely enjoyable red is made by cult winemaker Gonzalo Gonzalo Grijalba, the ‘enfant terrible’ of the Rioja region. Having first studied biology at the University of Leon and then Oenology at the University of Rioja, he proceeded to make biodynamic wines in the hills of Rioja. The ‘Gran Cerdo’ or ‘large pig’ is 100% Tempranillo and, true to form, Gonzalo Gonzalo includes no information on the label other than a rant aimed at the bank managers who have refused to lend him money to develop his business.”

wine legend

“You really should read the back label!”

zebra sausages

The zebra sausages turned out to be very popular, so much so that we had to cut them all into three pieces.

quail fancies

The quail fancies looked and tasted brilliant,

quail fancies with caviar

especially with a little caviar on top.

lamb heart kebabs

Next on the grill, were the lamb heart kebabs,

kangaroo steak and ostrich burgers

followed by kangaroo steak and ostrich burgers.

meat oli

The kangaroo fillet was spectacular. I’ve eaten the meat before and it has been a little tough, but this cut was tender like the very best steak. The taste is somewhere between beef and venison.

sous-vide squirrel

Squirrel are quite muscular, so they too got the sous-vide treatment.

grilled squirrel

The squirrel were a little gamey (like venison) and the long slow pre cook ensured it’s tenderness. The flavour is similar to hare or an older male rabbit …perhaps with a few nuts.

chicken heart kebabs

Next to the squirrel were more kebabs – this time with chicken hearts.
During the afternoon, liberal quantities of French fried potatoes were ferried around the garden on trays, to accompany the meat.

chicory

Chicory (endive) was the last thing to get a grilling – the heat was a bit fierce early on.

salsa de romesco

Rabina made an authentic salsa romesco especially for the chicory …and for a minute I was back in Cataluña.

chit chat

Meanwhile, Adrian Stout gave me the evil eye – or perhaps it was indigestion?

tongue tacos

Just as the barbecue was cooling off, the ox tongue tacos arrived. This was sous-vide ox tongue, as per the recent Barcelona barbecue, where Oli cooked it until it was falling apart.

filo

For pudding, Rick made 3 layers of filo pastry, with honey drizzled on each – this was sprinkled with crushed cashew nuts.

puddin’

…and of course there were strawberries with cream.

As it grew dark we sat outside on a bench and talked late into the night. As you can imagine, liberal quantities of cocktails, wine and cava were consumed.

About Mad Dog

https://maddogtvdinners.wordpress.com/
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34 Responses to Squirrel Barbecue

  1. jmcheney says:

    I am sorry our grey squirrels have wreaked havoc in Britain & put your dear red squirrels in danger. Here they are our little friends in the treetops & greedy menaces at our bird feeders. I am feeding three & their chipmunk cousins daily on my “banquet wall”. They have become fearless & are on the verge of eating from my hand. In my native Kentucky, pioneers & re-enactors ate/eat them in a great stew called Burgoo. I have never tasted this legendary concoction. Your feast in this blog was amazing, Mad. I am in awe of you & your adventurous gourmand colleagues.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Judith – they are incredibly tame here too! I had one climb up my leg in Regent’s Park a few years ago. I’ll have to try cooking Burgoo – I made Brunswick Stew some time ago and it was incredibly tasty.

  2. Eha says:

    Fun party with food I would have loved~ Have never tasted squirrel of either colour but remember the red ones as childhood friends in parks in Estonia . . . . Love, love, love ox tongue and cook it often . . . glad you had kangaroo: it is cheap and healthy here and I like the gamey flavour; a once- or twice-a-week menu addition . . . the steaks have to be eaten nearly blue or no more than rare – never tough then . . . and the kanga minced meat dishes can be superb. Looked up your prices: not that much more expensive than here . . .

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – this was excellent kangaroo and I did cook it rare. I’m pretty sure the meat I’ve had before was better suited to stewing, whereas this was a very good cut. I think I’d be strung up if I dared eat red squirrel. Fergus Henderson had grey squirrel on the menu at the St. John until (I believe) he received death threats!

      • Eha says:

        Perchance some people in your fair country should rethink both about the blessed bunny and the nuisance grey squirrel . . . . but am at the moment working against the ‘Yulin Dog Festival’ just coming up in China – tens of thousands of dogs being cruelly tortured and killed annually for food . . . I do wonder what the Brits would say if more were aware . . . there I draw a firm line . . . .

  3. Some party and a true feast! That darn mandolin is such a killer. You may finally have lost me on squirrels. I have no desire to eat them. Too urban, like city pigeons. But those salads! And the ostrich and kangaroo. The quail eggs. You ate adventurously and we’ll. Epic!

  4. timdavies1 says:

    Luvs that – ive got plenty of them down here and rabbits and a gun!!!

  5. Poor Oli…eek! And what a feast. No boring burgers and burnt bangers for you lot, looks amazing! Have to say, although the temperature has finally risen over here, Big Man and I are craving a bit of variety in our diets…there are so few restaurants left around here Up the Mountain and although it’s good quality food on offer, it’s all very much the same. This post made me very jealous!

  6. Rick Sareen says:

    Ahh you clearly didn’t try the puddin’ – it was lemon tart cream topped with meringue, then whipped cream and a strawberry with space dust on it. ;-))

  7. Well you certainly caught my eye with that title. Squirrel! Not something I’ve tried, but it sounds intriguing. That’s quite the feast you and your friends put on!

  8. Good God. Just divine Mad. I am deeply impressed and not a little envious!!

  9. Michelle says:

    What a party! Funny about the squirrel. I do remember eating it as a kid (being the daughter of a man who would hunt anything). I think people around here mostly bread and fry it. But that can be said of just about everything in the South, can’t it? 🙂

    • Mad Dog says:

      Hi Michelle – I did think you might be someone who’d tried them in the past. To my mind squirrel is like a small rabbit as quail is like a small chicken. There’s nothing wrong with breading and frying, aside from calories 😉

  10. Ron says:

    What a fine gathering of friends and food. I believe grey squirrel to be a fine eating tree rodent. I’ve not tied sous-vied method of cooking them, makes great sense. Mostly I’ve fried them in the deep fryer or used them in stew. All looked tasty and would of enjoy every taste, but the quail egg and caviar fancies interest me much. How does one eat them?

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Ron – they do taste very good stewed and I’m sure deep fried is delicious. The quail egg fancies are little petits fours in pastry, almost like a mini quiche. It’s hard to resist scooping them up in handfuls, although that would be uncouth!

  11. Pingback: Kangaroo Casserole | Mad Dog TV Dinners

  12. Karen says:

    A tasty critter barbecue for the adventuresome…it truly looks like you had a feast. 😀

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