Lifestyle

Squirrel & Girolle Mushroom Pasty - Recipe

Words bySchoffel Country

July 20, 2021

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Squirrel & Girolle Mushroom Pasty - Recipe

Squirrel might not come up on menus often, but should you come across it, would you choose it? James Goss, Master Chef at Rutland pub The King’s Arms Inn, uses grey squirrels in his cooking. Greys are an invasive species and a natural pest in this country and by eating them, it’s helping the native red squirrel population.


Squirrels are also wild, you probably see a few each day on your travels, so you know that when it comes to provenance, they haven’t been shipped very far to reach your plate! The meat is also healthy, nutritious, very low in fat and particularly delicious in a pasty. If you are wondering how you can source your own squirrel, start by asking at your local butchers. James demonstrates a straightforward squirrel pasty recipe, so once you have sourced some grey squirrel, perhaps you could try if for yourself.

Squirrel and Girolle Mushroom Pasty (Makes 6)


Shortcrust Pastry


250g plain flour
125g cold butter
125g beef suet
salt



Method


Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the cubes of butter and shredded suet.
Use your fingertips to rub the butter and suet into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Using a table knife, stir in just enough of the cold water to bind the dough together. Start with 1-2 tablespoons and add more if absolutely needed (shorter pastry will have a better texture, though can be a little crumbly to work with). Gently knead the pastry on a clean work surface until it comes together.
Cover in cling film and chill for 30 minutes whilst making the filling.


Cooking the Squirrels


3 or 4 squirrels
100ml Madeira, 50ml Marsala & 50ml Cognac
1 large carrot
4 garlic cloves
2 celery sticks
1 banana shallot
A few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
A few sprigs of parsley
8 black peppercorns
1ltr of chicken, rabbit or vveal stock to cover the jointed squirrel
Marinate the squirrels in your choice of alcohol for 2-4hrs


Method 1 - sous vide


Strain squirrels, reserve marinade. Dice vegetables and sauté until soft, leave to cool and add the remaining aromatics. Add the stock and seal in a vac bag. Poach at 75°C in a water bath for 16hrs. After 16hrs, pick squirrel meat off the carcass. Reserve the vegetables but remove the aromatics.

Method 2 - casserole


Strain squirrels, reserve marinade. Dice vegetables and add with the herbs into a solid casserole top, gently sauté until soft and add your choice of stock. Now add the squirrels ensuring they are covered in the liquid and put on the lid. If you need to, top up with water to cover. Place in an oven on gas mark ¼ or 100°C in an electric oven for about 3 ½ hours checking that the squirrels remain covered in liquid for the duration of cooking. Once tender, when the meat easily comes off the bone, lift the squirrels out of the pot and pick off the meat. Strain the liquor, discard the herbs and aromatics but reserve the vegetables and stock.

The Filling


Picked cooked meat from your squirrels - around 400g
The reserved marinade
50g flour
1 egg (for egg wash)
350g squirrel stock if using the casserole method, or 350g Chicken stock if using sous vide method
100g Girolles if available or sliced chestnut mushrooms if not.


Method


Put the butter into a medium hot pan and gently sauté off the mushrooms. Add the marinade after a couple of minutes and cook off until it has all but disappeared. Now add the flour and absorb all of the moisture in the pan, moving it all the time until everything is coated in flour. Now add the stock bit by bit until you have a very thick mushroom paste. Set aside to cool.
Now gently fold in the picked squirrel meat and reserved vegetables so they are evenly incorporated. Check the seasoning and add any salt or pepper as required.

Building the pasties


Use the egg wash created by combining; one egg, a splash of milk and pinch of salt whisked together.
Now to build the pasties. Roll out the dough ball into a sausage and cut into 6 even-sized discs. Roll each of these into a ball on a floured surface. Now roll them flat into a circular shape, around 3mm thick.
Brush the edge of the circular pastry with egg wash and place one tablespoon of the chilled filling into the centre of the disc. Fold the pastry over so you have a semicircle.
Now crimp the edges, forcing any air out of the pasty to seal the pasty shut.
Repeat and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Egg wash the pasties again before placing in a preheated oven (180°C or gas mark 4) for 20 – 25 mins until golden brown.

Enjoy!