Most New Yorkers might think of them as rats with fluffy tails, but, elsewhere, the squirrel has become a fancy new menu item.
As part of a growing ethical dining trend, chefs have begun serving dishes made with the North American gray squirrel, an invasive species.
“My original starting point with the gray squirrel was taste. But it’s also great for the environment,” renowned Scottish chef Paul Wedgwood told The Guardian of being inspired to add the gray squirrel to the menu of his Edinburgh Royal Mile restaurant in 2008. “It’s mild, nutty and a bit spicy. . It has a very nice flavor and is easy to combine,” added Wedgwood, who has even made squirrel haggis. “Anyone doing rabbit could easily change it to squirrel.”
As well as being a tasty alternative to some more commonly used meats, eating squirrels in the UK also offers a moral flavor: the rodent is significantly to blame for causing the local extinction of the red squirrel native to England and Wales in large swaths of the world. nation.
The response to the squirrel not as vermin but as a restaurant-quality delicacy has been excellent, Wedgwood said.
“The demand is there from customers,” he said. “A guy flew in from Switzerland and ordered a squirrel tasting menu. A six-course menu. . . Only with squirrel!
The Post was unable to locate any restaurants or butcher shops in New York City that admit to selling squirrels. But that doesn’t mean New Yorkers can’t enjoy this up-and-coming dish of the day; they may just have to catch, kill, and cook the creature themselves.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation considers squirrels to be “nuisance animals” and can be killed by owners or occupants at any time and in any manner if they are damaging property. And from November 1 through February 28, it’s open gray, black and fox squirrel season in New York City, though hunters are limited to six squirrel carcasses per day and legally limited in the methods they can use. to kill. the creatures. If killed outside of hunting season, the squirrel is technically required to be “immediately buried or cremated.”
Wedgwood recommends brushing two squirrel ribs with wild garlic oil and accompanying them with mashed carrots.
Some squirrel connoisseurs say the flavor can be addictive.
“We associate some animals with our own filth,” Steven Rinella told The Post in 2012 about his practice of hunting and eating the squirrels that stepped on his Fort Greene yard.
Rinella wrote in her hunting memoirs that she sometimes craves squirrel meat so much that she “will go to extreme lengths to get it.”