February 5 2019

What’s for Dinner? Grey Squirrel on Le Menu as Diners Turn to ‘Sustainable Meat’

They are often an unwanted visitor to gardens, thanks to their reputation for raiding bird feeders and stripping trees of…

They are often an unwanted visitor to gardens, thanks to their reputation for raiding bird feeders and stripping trees of bark. But grey squirrels are finding a warmer welcome to the dining table, as chefs and retailers report increasing interest in eating the furry rodent.

The rise in popularity is believed to stem from diners’ growing interest in sustainable, cruelty-free food, which sees them turn to “wild meat” from animals which would have been culled anyway.

The grey squirrel is one such animal, classed as an invasive pest which has few predators in the wild and out competes the endangered red squirrel.

To reduce waste, chefs are using the carcasses of culled squirrels in pancakes, croquettes and even lasagna.

Ivan Tisdall-Downes, who runs the restaurant Native in London’s Borough Market, makes a squirrel ragu by slow cooking the meat from its hind legs. His wild boar supplier happens to help with grey squirrel culling, and sends the carcasses down to the restaurant.

He said that customers are increasingly interested in eating cruelty-free wild meat and minimizing their carbon footprint, which makes squirrel a popular choice.

“I grew up in South East London and hadn’t heard of wild food. Now wild food is everywhere.”

Kevin Tickle, who runs Michelin-starred restaurant The Forest Side in Cumbria, has had a “critter fritter,” a grey squirrel croquette, on his acclaimed tasting menu since the restaurant opened in 2016.

Mr Tickle said customers enjoy the unusual option, adding: “95 per cent of people go for it, it’s on every menu. They find it quite exciting.”

“Game meat is also very popular in the paleo diet.” (Read More)

Now we know what to do with all of those nasty sewer rats! Game for Rodent Risotto, anyone?