It’s that time of year again where hearty, comforting and filling meals are a necessity. And as every year, I have been having a craving for Squirrel dumplings. For a few days I was talking about it and finally the Hubs went out and got me a couple of squirrels in order to make the delicious dish. Don’t be mistaken when I first had squirrel, about 5-6 years ago, I was extremely skeptical of eating what I thought of as tree rats. LOL. That particular time we had fried squirrel with gravy. It was very good and a great way to introduce a new meat into my repertoire. I saw a recipe on the internet for squirrel dumplings and became intrigued. I made that recipe a couple of years back and it was a hit. Now I have my own recipe that is so good the boys ages 3 and 5 eat it all up. I was a very proud momma. My first thought when thinking of squirrel dumplings was a dirty broth that had little squirrel heads floating in it. The imagery is just so, grotesque. But in reality the dish is very clean and delectable, and if someone didn’t know it was squirrel they would never guess it to be made from anything other than chicken.
To start the recipe you honestly have to have the squirrels about a day in advance of the dumplings. It’s best to clean and skin the squirrels, you can cut them in half at the rib cage if you don’t have a bowl to fit the whole body. Soak the meat in a mixture of water and salt, changing the water periodically throughout the day until bedtime when you place the bowl in the fridge overnight to soak. The salt and water mixture helps to cleanse the bodies and take some of the super gamely taste out of the meat.
The next day a few hours before you plan to eat, the meat needs to be boiled in a stock pot with water. I add salt, pepper and a couple of Bay leaves to the water with the meat because I’m making a broth or base for the dumplings. Leaving the meat to boil on med to high heat for an hour or two. When the meat is finished, scoop the meat out of the pot onto a plate to cool and leave the broth water in the pot on the stove to also cool.
While the meat is cooling, you will need to strain the broth. Use a cheese cloth, or strainer, pour the the broth into a clean bowl until all the excess hair, foam and anything else that you won’t need is left at the bottom of the pot. The broth should resemble chicken broth when done. Clean the stock pot and place the broth back inside. Once the meat is cooled, de-bone it and place back inside broth throwing the bones in the garbage. Turn stove back on low. Cut up three stocks of celery with the leaves into little pieces and place into the pot. Next dice up three sprigs of green onions and also place into pot. Open and drain the cans of carrots and green beans and place into pot.
Turn up the heat and slowly bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, take the can of biscuits and cut each biscuit into smaller pieces. The pieces can be as big or as small as you prefer. This is your stew. 🙂
Add the cut up pieces to the pot, turn down the heat to medium, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. The broth will thicken and turn milky. The dumpling will expand but remain firm. Once the stew is complete, I sprinkled salt and pepper over the top and served it hot.
The dish is tasty and versatile. We added the vegetables as a way to round out the dish and make it healthier as well as sneak in those veggies the kids won’t otherwise eat on their own. If you are not fond of the veggies, make your own decision on what to add or leave it out and make traditional squirrel and dumplings.
As an alternative to canned biscuits, which for me makes it quicker, you can make your own dumplings from scratch using only a few ingredients. I have had it both ways and depending on my mood I will make it all from scratch or use a short cut. Either way it turns out delicious. I will include the ingredients for the homemade dumplings below as well as a short list of the ingredients for the stew.
I hope you try this and love it as my family does. Alternative meat sources can be good if there is no aversion to hunting and cleaning your own meat. We find that fresh meat is tastier, cleaner and has less hormones than that which is bought in the store now a days. This is our choice and since transferring over to clean eating, we enjoy it so much more. If you don’t want to use squirrel, replace it with chicken and call is Chicken and dumplings.
Squirrel Dumplings Ingredients:
- 3-4 squirrels, Cleaned and skinned and soaked for 24 hours in salt water
- 12 oz. can of carrots, or 3-4 fresh peeled carrots
- 12 oz. can of green beans, or 1 cup of fresh green beans
- 3 celery stocks, chopped with leaves
- 3 springs of green onions, diced
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 can of Buttermilk Biscuits (cut into small bites size pieces)
- salt and pepper
Directions: Read above…..
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup shortening or butter (I prefer shortening, works better)
- 1/2 cup cold milk
Now this recipe is great for dumplings but I also use this recipe to make homemade biscuits. They turn out crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside, which us Southerns’ know is a characteristic of a perfect biscuit! ( Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 10 minutes).
In a bowl whisk together dry ingredients (salt, flour and baking powder). Add shortening and mix together with a fork until there are small clumps throughout. Make sure that all the flour has been mixed with the shortening. Once that is accomplished, slowly add the milk and mix together with a fork until a soft dough forms. On a floured surface roll dough out flat and place onto a floured pan. Cover with a towel and let sit for several hours before use.Now this recipe is great for dumplings but I also use this recipe to make homemade biscuits. They turn out so good. (oven at 400 degrees and bake for 10 minutes).
When it is time to use, grab a pizza slicer and cut little pieces through the dough and place into pan to cook as directed above.
If you are making biscuits, I used a glass tumbler to make round cutouts before baking. The dough freezes well if you don’t want to use all the dough at one time. So it can be saved and used later. Comforting and homemade, this dish will give you a sense of family and health. Enjoy its deliciousness.