Fall Harvest: Squirrel Braised in Apple Cider

This year the forest mast is plentiful. The acorns, hickories, and apples are abundant and the squirrels are fat! The harvest photograph pictured above (courtesy of Keith Tidball) includes the tasty mushroom/fungus, Chicken of the Woods, which is also found this time of year. Here is a recipe to enjoy two specimens of the Fall Harvest; squirrel and apples. Enjoy.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 dressed squirrel, cut in pieces and very lightly floured
1 medium onion, cut in quarters and separated
2 medium carrots, diced
1-1/2 cups apple cider
1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
2 medium cooking apples, cored and quartered

In a dutch oven or similar braising pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add squirrel pieces and brown on all sides. Add onions and carrots and cooks for 3-5 minutes. Stir in cider and scrape up any brown bits in the pan.  Add thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf.

Reduce heat and cover, braising until squirrel is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Add apple pieces on top, cover and cook an additional 15 minutes, until apples are tender.

Remove the squirrel pieces and take the meat off the bone. Place the meat back in the pan and increase the heat, bringing the cooking liquid up to a gentle simmer.

Reduce the cooking liquid to a nice thick sauce (about 5 minutes). The mixture can be served on toast as an appetizer or served over whole grain rice as a main course.

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