Grilled Squirrel

By Steven Rinella

Raw Rabbit, Lemon, and other ingrediants in a mortor

Sometimes I find that the best concepts for squirrel and rabbit recipes come from the chicken recipes of great chefs. You obviously have to adjust the cooking method and cooking times, but the flavor profiles often fit.

This particular recipe was inspired by a very simple chicken preparation used by chef Jamie Oliver. The squirrel meat can stand up to the pungent garlic and lemon, and the overnight marinade and slow cooking help make the otherwise chewy meat perfectly tender and delicious.

Serving size: 2-4

Ingredients

1 bunch thyme, leaves only
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp kosher salt
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 squirrels, skinned and cut into 4 legs and 2 loins each (about 1 pound total)

The Method

1. In a mortar and pestle (or in a bowl using a wooden spoon), mash the thyme leaves, rosemary leaves, garlic, salt and lemon zest.

2. Add the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil and stir.

3. Using a two-tined fork, pierce the squirrel meat many times.

4. Lay the meat in a glass or ceramic baking dish and coat thoroughly with the herb paste.

5. Pour the remaining lemon juice over the top.

6. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

7. Prepare a grill for indirect heat.

8. Put the marinated squirrel pieces on the cool side of the grill and roast slowly with the lid closed, turning occasionally, for 20-30 minutes or until tender.

9. Quickly finish them on the direct side of the grill to crisp them up and get nice grill marks. If you like, when you grill them for this finishing part, lay them on a bed of soaked sprigs of thyme or rosemary, which gives a little extra smoky herb flavor.