Squirrel melts for lunch – like tuna melts, but with squirrel

A friend sent along this year-old video of “Huntress” Heidi Wilson, a redneck Rachel Ray with a heavy dose of Martha Stewart-inspired soft lens on the camera.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife describes squirrel as "good table fare," offering recipes for squirrel chowder, stew and barbecue.

In Aug., 1997, Joseph Berger, Erick Weisman and Beverly Weisman of the University of Kentucky reported in The Lancet, they may have found a link between the consumption of squirrel brains, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

The scientists reported on five patients, aged between 56 and 78, who had been diagnosed as having Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. All of them reported that they had eaten squirrel brains.

Weisman told the N.Y. Times  squirrels were a popular food in rural Kentucky, where people eat either the meat or the brains but generally not both.

Families tend to prefer one or the other depending on tradition. Those who eat only squirrel meat chop up the carcass and prepare it with vegetables in a stew called burgoo. Squirrels recently killed on the road are often thrown into the pot.

Families that eat brains follow only certain rituals.

"Someone comes by the house with just the head of a squirrel," said Weisman "and gives it to the matriarch of the family. She shaves the fur off the top of the head and fries the head whole. The skull is cracked open at the dinner table and the brains are sucked out."  It is a gift-giving ritual.

The second most popular way to prepare squirrel brains is to scramble them in white gravy, he said, or to scramble them with eggs. In each case, the walnut-sized skull is cracked open and the brains are scooped out for cooking.

These practices are not related to poverty, Berger was cited as saying. People of all income levels eat squirrel brains in rural Kentucky and in other parts of the South.

Amy says squirrel tastes like chicken — if you add ketchup.