Squirrel Wars

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Marlena Spieler documents the current war between gray squirrels and red squirrels in an article for the New York Times.  Many Brits are putting squirrel on the menu; Fergus Henderson of St. John in London braises squirrel with bacon, porcini mushrooms and shallots.

Braised Squirrel and Watercress
(Recipe from The Independent)

4 squirrels, skinned by butcher
Duck fat
12 shallots
1oz dried porcini
Splash of eau de prune, or cognac
Approximately 1 pint chicken stock
1 Glass dry white wine
4 pigs' trotters
4oz bacon, cut into small chunks
1 carrot and 1 onion, both roughly chopped
Bay leaf
6 peppercorns
Bunch watercress, roughly chopped

Scrub trotters, cover in water. Simmer with carrot, onion, peppercorns and bayleaf for several hours until tender. Cool. Strain. Extract meat and return to liquid. Leave to jellify. Keep overnight in fridge.

Cut squirrels into five – back legs, shoulders, saddle. Remove hearts and livers, brown in duck fat, splash with eau de prune, mash into paste, reserve. Soak porcini in a little hot water for half an hour. Drain, reserve liquid. Cook squirrel gently in duck fat until lightly browned. Flame in eau de prune, add wine. Place in casserole. Fry bacon and shallots in same fat, adding porcini. Season. Add to casserole, with porcini liquor and four tablespoons trotter jelly. Cover with stock. Add lid. Braise in 325 oven for two to three hours until tender. Stir in watercress. Serve with liver paste on toast.

Music break: Ecaroh by Bob Holroyd