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As the archery and waterfowl seasons begin to wind down, we turn our attention to smaller quarry, such as squirrels. Squirrels are not only a blast to hunt, especially for kids, but they are also delicious. This recipe is pretty simple but it does require submerging the meat in a wet brine for 2-3 days. The brining process keeps the meat juicy and can also help to tenderize tough pieces. These make a perfect appetizer for those weekend movie nights or the big game.
Pellet smoker or gas grill
BBQ rub such as Meateater Beaver Trapper
1 cup Kosher salt
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/3 cup molasses
4-5 tablespoons BBQ rub
2 cans lager beer
1. Bring 2 cups of water to a simmer and add salt, BBQ sauce, molasses, and rub and stir until the salt and rub dissolve.
2. Remove the brine from the heat and allow it to cool a bit before adding the beer. Add enough water to the brine to make 1 gallon and place it in the refrigerator or on ice to cool completely.
3. Thoroughly rinse squirrels and remove any hairs. I prefer to remove the legs and then cut the back in half.
4. Add the squirrel pieces to a Ziploc bag and pour enough cold brine to thoroughly cover all the pieces. Squeeze out any excess air and place the Ziploc bag in a large bowl and place it in the refrigerator or in a cooler on ice for 2-3 days.
5. This recipe will not use all the brine, so the excess can be poured in a plastic jug and frozen for later use. (The excess brine is great for chicken and pork, although I cut the soak time down to 6-12 hours for domestic meat.)
6. Once the brining time is complete, simply remove the squirrel pieces, give them a quick rinse, and place them on a sheet pan. Pat each piece with paper towels to dry and sprinkle with the BBQ rub and apply a light drizzle of cooking oil.
7. Heat your smoker or grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the squirrel and turn every 10-15 minutes. Cook until the thickest part hits 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Warm ½ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. Add the squirrel pieces to a large bowl, drizzle the BBQ sauce over top, and then toss to coat.
Alternate Cuts That Work:
Rabbits or game birds.