August in Kentucky was always a special time of year when I was growing up. The waning days of summer meant squirrel season was about to open, and that hunting season in general was upon us. Many a morning was spent patrolling the woods around our farm, and many a fine meal resulted. Squirrel meat has been held in high regard by American diners since the days of Lewis and Clark. Even James Beard, in his classic “American Cookery”, wrote,
“Squirrel has been written about rapturously for years. And it has long been associated with elegant dining as well as with the simple food of the trapper and the nomad.”
Fast forward 30 or so years and squirrel season has once again taken a front-row seat. This time it is with my youngest son, Potroast. While he is passionate about chasing bushytails, he tends to be a bit too nomadic to do much harm to the local population. But, a few days ago I talked him into trying it my way and parking under a couple colossal hickory trees along our pasture edge. I pointed out the green cuttings littering the ground as proof that we were in a good spot. By morning’s end, he had four nice young grays in the bag, more than enough for a fine dinner. We headed home and employed the Will Brantley method of skinning our take, then quartered them up and placed them in a bowl of salted water in the refrigerator.
That evening, I rinsed the squirrels well and replaced the salt water with enough buttermilk to cover the squirrel pieces. Back into the fridge for another hour or so and they were ready to fry for dinner.