By Josh Boyd
The spring warm-up signals the onset of a busy time within the life of an outdoorsman. Turkeys begin gobbling, crappie congregate on beds, and morel mushrooms sprout forth across the rural landscape. However, for many hunters, the onset of spring squirrel season is situated high atop their priority list.
Few can argue against the youthful joy that a morning of squirrel hunting offers, even to the most seasoned of hunters. If you do not get excited by the sight of a fox squirrel shimmying up an oak while you stand at the ready with your favorite squirrel gun, you need to check yourself for a pulse.
One of the finest points of a successful squirrel hunt is the meal that follows. Squirrels can be prepared in a number of ways and can be combined into a nearly infinite number of dishes. However, many hunters grow tired of the same dishes year after year and seek out new and original ways to cook up a batch of freshly harvested bushy tails.
If this is you, then the following Cheesy Broccoli and Squirrel Casserole recipe should kick your taste buds into overdrive and provide you with a dish that will bring satisfaction for years to come.
Gather Needed Supplies
Prior to beginning, ensure that you have all dishes and utensils at the ready. At a minimum, this recipe requires the use of 3-4 pots for boiling and mixing, a baking dish, measuring cups, a stirring spoon, and knives. By preparing these items in advance, you minimize the time required to prepare this dish and prevent unnecessary hassle.
* 2 squirrels, skinned and cleaned
* 2- 10oz packages of frozen broccoli with cheese sauce
* ½ stick of butter
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1 cup chopped celery
* 1 cup of rice, cooked
* 1- 10oz can cream chicken soup
* 1- 10oz can cheddar cheese soup
* Dash of garlic powder
* Salt and pepper
* ⅓ box Ritz crackers, crushed
* ½ stick melted butter
* ½-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
You will begin by placing two cleaned squirrels into a pot of water. Place this pot onto a stovetop burner and bring the water in the pot to a boil. Continue boiling until the meat becomes tender and starts falling off of the bone.
This process will typically take approximately an hour to complete but can vary slightly. Alternatively, some might find it beneficial to use a pressure cooker in order to speed up this process.
When you are finished boiling your squirrels, remove your pot from the burner, and allow it to cool. Remove all meat from the pot, as well as any meat that remains on the bone. Next, shred or cut this meat into pieces of the preferred size.
Prepare Additional Ingredients
Next, you will prepare the additional ingredients for your casserole. You might choose to do so during the period of time in which your squirrels are boiling, to minimize prep time.
Begin by placing your bag of broccoli and cheese into the microwave, then proceed to heat the broccoli and cheese according to the instructions found on the package. You will now prepare 1-cup of minute rice, again following provided cooking instructions.
Now heat ½ stick of butter until melted in a pan or pot on the stove. With your butter melted, add your chopped onion and celery and sauté until they are tender.
With all of your ingredients prepared, you will now place your broccoli and rice into a single pot, following this with the introduction of the previously prepared squirrel meat, celery, and onion. Next add a can of cream of chicken soup, and a can of cheddar cheese soup to your mixture.
Stir the ingredients contained within the pot until they are mixed thoroughly. Next add salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and stir your mixture once more.
Bake to Perfection
You will now preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating, pour your mixture into an appropriately sized greased baking dish. Take care to ensure that this mixture is spread across the entirety of the dish, to an even thickness.
Next, place your crushed Ritz crackers into a bowl, and add only enough melted butter to lightly saturate the crumbs within.
Take the contents of this bowl and spread them evenly across the previously filled baking dish. Ensure that you achieve an even and consistent coating across the entirety of your dish. Finally, sprinkle as much shredded cheese across the top of your casserole as desired.
You will now place your casserole into the oven, and allow it to cook for 30-45 minutes, until bubbly hot.
Cheesy Broccoli and Squirrel Casserole is sure to become an instant favorite within your wild game cooking repertoire. This dish is not only delicious, but is hearty enough that a single dish can feed a room full of hungry hunters. If you are as serious about your wild game recipes as you are squirrel hunting, be sure to give Cheesy Broccoli and Squirrel Casserole a try this spring.