Potted squirrel with sourdough

1 hour 30 minutes


  • 2 grey squirrels, jointed into 6 pieces
  • 150g of smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 banana shallot, sliced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 500ml of dry cider
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • sourdough bread
  • watercress
  • olive oil


I use a crock-pot for the first stage of braising the meat but you could also use a casserole and your oven on a very low setting, approximately 120°C. Start by layering the bacon down first, add the jointed squirrel and then scatter over the remaining vegetables, spices and herbs
Season generously and pour over the cider. Set the crock-pot to low, cover and then leave for 6-8 hours. The principle point here is to melt the bacon into submission and cook the squirrel meat until very, very tender
Leave to cool then pour the stock through a sieve, reserving the liquid. Add the squirrel and as much of the bacon as possible to a bowl. Using your hands, pick the squirrel meat - this is a little bit fiddly and time consuming but you want to make sure that no tiny bones remain. Pick the meat over a metal bowl and listen out for any pings
When you have removed all the meat, combine with the bacon and mash together with a fork. Transfer to a food processor if you want a smoother pâté but I prefer it rough (no giggling at the back). If the mixture is a little bit dry, add a spoonful of leftover liquor but not too much
Spoon the mix into ramekins and put to one side. Take your block of unsalted butter and clarify by heating and melting in a saucepan on the hob, skimming any scum that rises to the top, whilst the chalky deposits fall to the bottom. The golden stuff in-between is what you are after
Carefully pour the clarified butter over the top of the squirrel, leaving just a thin layer, and place in the fridge to chill for an hour. Before serving, take the ramekins out of the fridge and bring to room temperature
When ready to serve, toast your sourdough and dress the watercress lightly in olive oil. Arrange on a plate with the potted squirrel and a scattering of pickles