08 August 2010

8 August - Saint Cyriacus; Squirrels; Brunswick Stew

Today is the feast of Saint Cyriacus, one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and invoked against diseases of the eye.    A good reminder to make an appointment to have your eyes checked.

From The Old Farmer's Almanac: "Gray squirrels have their second litter now."
Which means more  fuzzy-tailed thieves enjoying the bird feeders.  Oh well.  I like to listen to their chatter.

Squirrel meat is supposed to be tender, and with less of the gamy taste found in other wild game.  I wouldn't know.  Don't care to know, either.  Be that as it may, squirrel is the main ingredient for Brunswick Stew:

3 squirrels
1-1/2 gallons boiling salted water
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 cup green Lima beans
1 cup chopped tomatoes
Salt, pepper
1-1/2 cups corn, fresh cut with milk scrapings
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup diced boiled potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup grated cabbage

Clean squirrels, draw, and soak in cold salted water for 3 hours.  Parboil in salted water and then place in boiling water in an iron kettle with the bacon.  Cook until the meat loosens from the bones.  Take out squirrels.  Remove bones and return meat to the kettle.  Add Lima beans and tomatoes.  Season.  Cook until beans are done.  Add corn, butter, potatoes, carrots, celery, and cabbage.  Stir and cook until ingredients appear as one.  Serve hot.
(Recipe from Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 5.)

If you can't catch sufficient squirrels, you can substitute a 4-5 pound stewing chicken.  In a kettle, simmer the cut-up chicken and 1/4 pound of bacon (either chopped or whole) in enough water to cover, until chicken is tender.  Remove the chicken (and the bacon, if it is a whole piece), allow to cool, then cut meat into bite size pieces.  Discard the skin and bones, return the meat to the kettle, and add the following: 1 chopped onion; 2 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (a 1-pound can is sufficient); 2 cups of Lima beans (fresh, canned, or frozen); 2-3 cups of cubed potatoes; 1-1/2 cups of corn, fresh cut from the cob (or a 12-ounce can); 1-1/4 teaspoons of salt; and either 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper or 1 teaspoon of paprika.  You can also add a cup or two of diced carrots and celery, if you like. Simmer  for about 30 minutes.

According to my husband, my mother-in-law, as a young wife, made Fried Squirrel one night for dinner.  Maybe she got hold of a tough one and didn't parboil it first, but for some reason, this entree foiled all attempts to eat it.  First her husband tried to cut it, then he tried gnawing it off the bone like a chicken leg.  When that didn't work, he tossed it to the dog, who worried it for a few minutes, and then took it outside and buried it.  After that, squirrel never showed up on the table again.  (And if you're wise," said my husband, "you won't mention cooking squirrel to her."  I didn't.)