Four years on from ‘Squirrelgate’, i turns out to have been a culinary pioneer – and we now have the support of environmentalists

February 28, 2023 10:04 pm

I knew I was right.

Some of you may remember “Squirrelgate”, the dark chapter in i’s history when – back in February 2019 – we published a recipe for “Grey squirrel braised in dark beer with carrots and wild garlic”.

i’s readership was divided. Some of you rodent gourmets were thrilled by the novelty. But others were unconvinced. “Have you gone nuts?” one spluttered. “How about hedgehogs in a strawberry and prosecco jus?”

The recipe was not a response to Brexit, as several troublemakers speculated.

Instead, it was a reaction to the growing popularity of grey squirrel as a lean, sustain-able, low-carbon alternative to intensively farmed meat.

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Four years later … we turn out to have been culinary pioneers – and we now have the support of environmentalists.

The Exmoor Squirrel Project is asking landowners to set live traps to stop the creature “wreaking havoc” on Britain’s woodlands. They then intend to introduce grey squirrels to local restaurant menus.

The taste is similar to rabbit, apparently.

This poacher’s treat had been forgotten: phased out after the Second World War as people turned to chicken. It is recommended for barbecues, casseroles and ragus.

You won’t pick one up at Londis, and most chefs do not recommend roadkill. Specialist butchers will deliver them to your doorstep, however, and it is easy to find “oven-ready” squirrels online for between £3.60 and a fiver.

Perhaps your next dinner guests will enjoy guessing the surprise ingredient? Just don’t tell Beatrix Potter.

@olyduff

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