Squirrel Gravy: The Chicken Noodle Soup of Appalachia

Erin Brown

I obtained this recipe from a good friend from Saltville, Virginia. It was given to his family by a close friend, then passed down and around through the family. In the past, squirrel gravy or squirrel stew was given to people who had wintertime ailments such as the flu or a cold. In a way it can be considered the chicken noodle soup of Appalachia. Squirrel brains and scrambled eggs have also been a popular dish in Appalachia; however the consumption of squirrel brains has been declining with the threat of mad squirrel disease and subsequent warnings from various state fish and wildlife agencies. When making squirrel gravy, it is best to do so after the first hard frost, so that any parasites the squirrel may have such as lice or warblers are killed by the cold. Take measures to thoroughly clean and de-bone the squirrel, as it has many small bones that could cause choking or just plain annoyance while enjoying your gravy. You may also want to consider freezing some squirrel meat so that you can enjoy the gravy year- round, or help someone feel a little better when under the weather of a summer cold.

No specific measurements are included, allowing the cook to make the gravy as thick or thin as preferred.  This recipe allows for cooks not only to vary the thickness of the gravy but also the size of the meat pieces. Since there are so many small bones in the squirrel, the meat is often in small bits in the gravy, but it is possible to make the pieces larger. Begin by dressing and cleaning the squirrel, then follow the simple directions below and soon you will have delicious gravy to serve over a warm plate of biscuits, grits, or rice.

Ingredients:

• Squirrel, cleaned and de-boned (2 squirrels will feed about 4 people)

• Lard or shortening

• Milk

• Flour

• Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

• Fry de-boned squirrel pieces in a cast iron skillet with lard or shortening, browning squirrel on all sides

• Add milk and flour to grease and meat mixture

• Boil down milk, continuously tasting gravy to make to your liking

• Add salt and pepper to taste