Was a ole gal lived up around Paxville, name of Velvet Jean DuBose, we used to visit when I was a young fella. She could shoot the eyes out of a squirrel, and did so regularly.
The way they tell it, DNR proposed a shortened season AND smaller creel limit on the tree rats, all thanks to how often, and how good-a-shot, ole Velvet Jean was. Story goes, she moved numerous times across Santee Cooper Country in her later years, as she’d pretty well depleted the populations of her favorite food source in every neck of the woods she inhabited.
And she weren’t no hack, blasting all the leaves out the treetops, hoping to make a connection with some meat. It was head-shots only for Velvet Jean!
Soon as was I equally proficient with greasing a skillet as I was with shooting a .22, she shared this recipe with me. It’ll knock your socks off.
- 2-4 squirrel carcasses, cleaned, dressed and coated in Lowcountry Seasonings All Purpose blend
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh herbs for garnish (such as rosemary or thyme)
- Marinate the Squirrel: Place the cleaned squirrel carcasses in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, minced ginger, soy sauce, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour this marinade over the squirrel meat and ensure it’s well-coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight for better flavor penetration.
- Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C).
- Sear the Squirrel: Heat a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a bit of oil if needed. Remove the squirrel from the marinade, allowing excess marinade to drip off, and sear the meat until it’s browned on all sides.
- Make the Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the chicken or vegetable broth and maple syrup (or honey). Bring to a simmer and let it reduce by half, stirring occasionally. This will create a sweet and savory glaze.
- Bake the Squirrel: Place the seared squirrel meat in a baking dish and brush it generously with the glaze. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the squirrel meat is tender and cooked through. Baste the squirrel with the glaze every 30 minutes during the baking process.
- Serve: Once the squirrel meat is tender and glazed to perfection, remove it from the oven. Garnish with fresh herbs and an extra drizzle of glaze if desired. Serve hot with your choice of side dishes, such as roasted vegetables or wild rice.