To me, nothing says Super Bowl party like a big spread of classic Midwest potluck fare. Call an audible and sub in squirrel for chicken in your buffalo dip this year and you're bound to turn some heads. By halftime and a few beers, even the most squirrelly guest will be digging in and maybe even wearing some home.
This dip is super easy to whip up. I opted to bake this dish then broil the top for added texture, but you could easily go no-fuss and let it sit in a slow cooker or add an extra cooking step and smoke the whole dang thing-especially if you already have the smoker going for the party.
I've suggested a straightforward braise for the squirrel but feel free to use whatever flavors you'd like. What's most important is that the squirrel is pull-apart tender. You probably won't use all of the cooked meat, so the leftovers could turn into anything from breakfast chilaquiles to stuffed pasta.
- 2 cups braised squirrel meat
- 2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
- 8 oz. bag shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 5 oz. container bleu cheese crumbles
- 1 cup buffalo hot sauce
- 1 cup ranch dressing
- 1 cup celery, small diced
- 1 cup green onion, sliced
- 2 tbsp. garlic, minced, plus a few whole cloves
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. liquid smoke
- 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- French bread or baguette
- 1 or 2 squirrels, cleaned and broken down into pieces
- Enough game stock to cover
- Splash of apple cider vinegar
- Aromatics such as garlic, onion, bay leaf, and fresh herbs
- Coarse salt to taste
Also works with
- Break the squirrel down into pieces, including the legs and saddle, then season with salt. In a Dutch oven or deep-sided pan, add a few tablespoons of cooking oil and brown all sides of the meat. Add the aromatics, pour in the liquids, and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and braise in a 325ºF oven for 2 hours or until pull-apart tender. Let the squirrel cool and then shred into small chunks. Add a splash of the liquid to the meat and set it aside. (You could also cook the squirrel overnight in a slow cooker.)
- Next, make the dip. In a large pot on medium heat, add the butter and garlic. Cook the garlic until it just begins to turn golden on the edges. Then add the celery, shredded meat, and dry seasonings and cook for another minute. Now add in the cream cheese, buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, and liquid smoke. Heat this mixture while stirring until everything is fully incorporated, about 10 minutes.
- Reserve a handful of the cheddar cheese, half of the bleu cheese, and half of the green onions. Mix the rest of these ingredients into the dip then immediately dump the mixture into your baking dish. Top evenly with the reserved cheddar cheese, bleu cheese, and green onions. Bake the dip at 425ºF for 15 minutes on the center rack and then broil for 1 to 2 minutes to finish.
- Slice the bread and spread it evenly on a baking sheet. Broil on one side until crispy brown and slightly charred on the top. About 3 minutes. Scrape away any unwanted burned parts with a knife. Rub each toast with the garlic cloves. Serve with the dip and enjoy.