I grew up — and anyone who knows me knows that I did so prodigiously — eating squirrel and dumplings every time I visited my grandmother’s house. Now Grandma was never one to worry about healthy eating; to her, it was all about taste, and to heck with the consequences.
After she died, and I grew up with complications from bad eating habits, I had to make a few changes in diet, but I simply could not give up one of my favorite, soul-satisfying meals.
So I developed this healthy alternative to Grandma’s squirrel and dumplings and, with apologies to her, I offer it to you. It is a low-fat version, and can also be used with rabbit.
4 squirrels, either whole or quartered
4 whole cloves (more or less) garlic
2 cloves (more or less) garlic diced
2 medium onions, one quartered and 1 diced, separated
4 celery stalks, 2 chopped fine and 2 cut in half, plus any leaves
1 tbsp canola oil
1 or 2 packs, fat-free or low-fat, flour tortillas, sliced into 1-inch squares
Salt, pepper to taste
In a stockpot, place squirrel, quartered onion, whole garlic cloves and big celery pieces (and any leaves) and cover with at least 3 inches with water. Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours — the longer the better.
Using a large collander, strain stock, reserving all liquid and return to stock pot. Remove squirrel and carefully debone into as large pieces of meat as possible. Set aside.
In a separate pot or Dutch oven, brown the diced onion and chopped celery over medium heat until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook another minute. Turn heat to high and immediately add half the reserved stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, and begin adding tortilla pieces making sure to drop them individually to prevent sticking together.
Add stock if needed as pot fills with growing dumplings and to achieve your desired consistency. Carefully add squirrel meat, softly stirring to prevent breaking. Once meat is mixed in, it’s best to not stir but simply to shake the pot left and right. Salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer 20 minutes and eat.