OutdOOR JOURNAL by Kyle Carroll
The weather has finally turned more fall-like, and we have received some much needed moisture. The woods look, smell and feel fall-like. It's the best time of the year to hunt squirrels. North Missouri woodlands are home to two kinds of squirrels, Fox and Gray squirrels. (Technically three kinds if you count the flying squirrel). The squirrel season has been open since May 28, and the daily bag limit is 10. That includes both species combined, or “the aggregate” as the Wildlife Code says. “Aggregate” means hunters may harvest any combination of fox and gray squirrels so long as they do not exceed 10 squirrels total in one day. If hunters bag a daily limit two days in a row, they will have a possession limit of 20 squirrels. After that, they must eat or give away some squirrels before going hunting again in order to stay within the possession limit.”
After you shoot a couple of squirrels, you need to start thinking how best to enjoy them. Here is a fried squirrel recipe from Real Tree you should try.
BUTTERMILK FRIED SQUIRREL
3-4 skinned and quartered young squirrels.
Buttermilk for marinating
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons black pepper
1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
2 cups milk (for the gravy)
Start by placing flour, salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning into a large zip style or paper bag and giving it a good shake to mix thoroughly. Remove the squirrel pieces from the buttermilk, shaking off any excess, and drop them into the flour bag. Shake thoroughly and then place the coated pieces onto a cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the crust to set. Reserve three tablespoons of the seasoned flour for gravy making later.
Next, head on over to the fridge and take out your jar of saved bacon grease. What? You don’t keep a jar of saved bacon grease in the fridge? You should.
You can always fry a bit of bacon and use the remaining grease to fry your squirrel, or even use one of the lesser frying mediums, like vegetable oil or shortening, and get almost as fine a result. Heat about half an inch of the oil of choice in a heavy frying pan, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Squirrels being squirrels, even the young ones do enough running and jumping to be a bit on the tough side, and so a long, slow fry with the lid on helps to soften them up. Fry the squirrel in batches, lid tightly on, for 10 to 12 minutes per side. When the pieces are browned and cooked through, remove them to a warm plate and cover with foil while you make your gravy. Start by pouring off all but three tablespoons of oil from the pan. Make sure all of the brown stuck-on bits left from the frying remain. Add in the three tablespoons of reserved seasoned flour and stir well until the flour is lightly browned. Slowly add the milk and continue to stir. Those bits of goodness that were stuck to the pan should loosen and incorporate into the gravy. Stir until the gravy has thickened to the point that it will coat the back of a spoon and tracks remain when you push the spoon across the skillet. My favorite way to serve fried squirrel and gravy is alongside homemade biscuits and scrambled eggs with a few slices of late-summer tomatoes. Fancy? Nope. It's about as simple as a meal can be. Good? You betcha. About as good as it gets.