By RYAN KISIEL
Earning a crust: James Hughes Davies, who runs Little Jack Horner's pie company, sells 60 squirrel pies a week at farmer's markets
It was a popular delicacy served up until the last century when it dropped off Britain’s menu.
But grey squirrel pie is currently enjoying a revival due to attempts to save its less aggressive red cousins from extinction.
Thousands of grey squirrels have been sold to restaurants, butchers and are on sale at farmer’s markets after being legally trapped and shot in woodland and rural areas.
Squirrel stew: Mr Davies makes batches of his pie filling to sell at farmers markets around London
Conservationists have attempted to increase numbers of red squirrels through campaigns to cull thousands of the grey variety.
Not only are greys larger, tougher and more aggressive they carry squirrel pox disease - a virus deadly to reds.
The meat, which chefs say tastes like wild rabbit or game, is dark and usually slow-cooked before being made in casseroles, hot-pots or pies. As there is not much flesh on the squirrel, a whole one provides enough meat for a single pie.
Days are numbered: Some argue that trapping and shooting grey squirrels (pictured) is the only way to save the native red squirrel from extinction
James Hughes Davies, 31, who runs Little Jack Horner’s pie company, sells 60 squirrel pies a week at farmer’s markets and says he could sell dozens more if he could get hold of the animals.
‘The main problem is that I can’t get enough of the squirrels as the demand is so high’, he said.
‘I get them at the moment from a man who traps them in Suffolk before killing them humanely. As they’re classified as vermin they are there to be caught.
Battle for survival: Not only are greys larger, tougher and more aggressive they carry squirrel pox disease - a virus deadly to reds (pictured)
‘They have been selling really well. People from all walks of life are trying them, not solely people who are quite wealthy and into their food.
‘Squirrel tastes a little bit like wild rabbit, but has darker meat. As a country, we’ve been eating squirrel for centuries along with pigeon and many other wild animals that we now classify as game.
‘It’s only been in the last 50 years when we’ve had an emotional attachment to them that it’s gone off the menu.
Slow cooking is the key: A whole squirrel should take about an hour and a half
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Anyone for grey squirrel pie? Victorian delicacy enjoys revival in bid to save red cousins from extinction
By RYAN KISIEL