Apparently the French think true confit, (pronounced “konfee”), can only be made with goose or duck. If they had squirrel however, I believe they might just change their tune. I managed to slip away from my mother in law’s house and had a killer hunt just outside Austin. As part of a large dinner party menu, I was inspired to give this recipe a try from my friends in the Facebook group Hunt Gather Cook, which I highly suggest you join. Originally I was going to make tacos from the confit, but at the behest of my friends (who are always behesting me) they decided to eat it with just their grubby little fingers. It was that good.
Sadly, I killed very few ducks or geese this season, and was left with no waterfowl fat to confit my squirrels. This recipe uses olive oil, the method used in Provence, but the results were still spectacular. We’ve used it as leftovers on pasta, salads, and some fried rice. It’s versatile and yummy.
- 9 fox squirrels, skinned and quartered. Rib cage removed.
- 8 cups of olive oil
- Bay leaves
- 1 cup of salt
- 1 cup of dextrose sugar
- 1 tsp instacure #1 (pink salt)
- 2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tsp course ground black pepper
- 1 TBS of satsuma zest
- Pat your squirrel dry and put all of the cure in a shallow pie plate. Press each piece of meat into the cure and set on a cookie rack over a baking sheet to catch the excess juice. Refrigerate uncovered for 8 hours. Longer if you like things a bit salty.
- Rinse, pat dry, and place on a cookie rack to dry for half an hour. Turn your oven to its lowest setting or WARM.
- In a large dutch oven, stack in your squirrel. Cover with olive oil or other fat of your choice. I intended to use lard from wild boar, but opted at the last minute for olive oil. Toss in a handful of bay leaves if you like.
- Place in the oven, and with a digital thermometer ensure the temperature never exceeds 200º. Cook for 12 hours.
- Shred and crisp in a cast iron skillet. You can also leave whole and crisp as well. Both are delectable.
Confit is a great way to enjoy pecan pirates. If you like to squirrel hunt, but are looking for something a little different to do with your take, use this old school French approach.