Grey Squirrel Vol-Au-Vents
It has become a tradition that we celebrate our friend Hazel’s birthday with a squirrel dish. Previous years have seen squirrel and wild garlic pasties and simple barbecued squirrel legs but this year I decided to reinvent a classic and make some 70s style vol-au-vents. Squirrel lends itself very well to many recipes that would normally be made with chicken – think Thai green squirrel or a squirrel au vin – so I broadly adapted this recipe: https://www.goodfood.com.au/recipes/chicken-bacon-and-mushroom-volauvents-20130725-2qlvx with a few substitutions according to what was in my cupboards on the day.
- 3 skinned squirrels (I used just the back legs and backs as this is where most of the meat is)
- A stick of rosemary
- Pack of puff pastry (ready made frozen vol-au-vents cases are available in some some supermarkets)
- Beaten egg
- 100g pancetta or smoked bacon
- 1 onion
- Splash of Port
- 100 ml Cream
Place your skinned squirrels in a saucepan of salted water with a twig or 2 of rosemary and a bayleaf.
Simmer for around an hour until the meat comes away from the bone. Mine were ready after 45 minutes, older squirrels may need a bit longer.
Meanwhile roll out your puff pastry and cut into circles. Cut the middles out of half the circles and lay them on top of the whole ones. Use the middles to make some mini versions for those less enthusiastic about sampling squirrel canapés! As you can see in the photo I experimented with a triple layer of pastry but this isn’t necessary.
Brush with egg and bake in a preheated oven at 200C until puffed up – about 15 minutes.
Fry the pancetta then the chopped onion then deglaze the pan with the port (obviously use whatever booze you have to hand within reason).
Pull the meat off the cooked squirrels – easier if you have time to let them cool a bit first. I had far too much on my 4 squirrels so made a pie the next day.
Add to the pan with the onion and pancetta, stir in the cream and cook for a few minutes.
Season to taste then stuff this mixture into the puffed pastry cases – you may need to push the middles down a bit to make room- garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm ( better) or cold (more practical).