"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Old Squirrel Hunter Learns New Tricks
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres
08-26-02

It is not often that I dine at the home of Phil and Charlene Hawkins without learning something new about cooking wild game. So it was one day last week at the home of the Franklin couple. 

Phil, a longtime outdoor friend, and your reporter had returned about noon from a gray-squirrel safari in nearby Morgan County. We were preparing to skin our game. 

Charlene, who never fails to amaze me with her culinary capers, came out to ask if we would like to do lunch first. I couldn't even imagine our turning down such an offer--all the more so when she said lunch would be fried gray squirrel, biscuits and gravy, green beans, homemade potato salad, and chilled slices of tomatoes fresh from their garden. The blueberry cheese cake was a surprise. It was just as scrumptious as it sounds. 

As my tastebuds tingled, I likened Charlene's kitchen caper to "The Deacon's One-Hoss Shay." The potato salad was just as good as the green beans, and the biscuits and gravy were on a high par with the sliced tomatoes . . . But unlike the fabled "one-hoss shay," I knew the morsels on Charlene's china would not last 100 years . . . more like 20 minutes. 

And the first bite of the back leg of a gray squirrel--the so-called "piece de resistance"--made it patently obvious that I had to know how she did it. 

As usual, Charlene graciously shared her cooking expertise. "It's easy," she said, and promptly ran through the procedure for me. 

She simply dredges the squirrel pieces in flour and fries them to doneness (brown) in a skillet in Crisco. 

At this point she pours about an inch of water in the crock pot, and fashions a foil boat with high sides to float the fried squirrel pieces above the water (not in it). The pot is then covered and the heat is turned to high for about an hour to steam the squirrel. Then the heat is turned down until time to dine. 

"I've done it with chicken, too," Charlene says, adding that her new method of steaming fried meats is simply a takeoff from the practice of frying (uncovered), steaming (covered),  then browning meats (uncovered) in a skillet. 

Of course, Charlene made the gravy in the skillet where she browned the squirrel. Simple or not, it still makes a melt-in-your-mouth piece of squirrel. 


When Phil and I continued with skinning our game, he applied the old saw about "teaching old dogs new tricks," by demonstrating how he cuts a squirrel into six pieces while giving those big back legs added meat. 

Instead of severing the back legs at the hip joints, he does a crosswise cut of the back just in front of the back legs. 

This leaves more of the backstrap (tenderloin) as part of each back leg, even though it means a smaller lower-back piece. 
 

 


 
All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from his family.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Scifres Family, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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