Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Presidential Squirrel Soup

James A. Garfield was President of the United Stated from March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881.

Garfield's exceedingly short tenure as President is due to the fact that in September of his first year in office, he was shot twice as he stepped out on to the platform at the Baltimore and Potomac Railway Station in Washington for some fresh air. The shooter was a disturbed failure by the name of Charles Guiteau, who was angry that he was not given a federal job despite his complete lack of qualification to do anything at all.  For his trouble, Guitreau was given a trial and hanged in 1882.

Garfield, who was raised on an Ohio farm, had his own recipe for Squirrel Soup, which was monumentalized in the White House cookbook of 1887.

Wash and quarter three or four good sized squirrels; put them on, with a small tablespoonful of salt, directly after breakfast, in a gallon of cold water. Cover the pot close, and set it on the back part of the stove to simmer gently, not boil. Add vegetables just the same as you do in case of other meat soups in the summer season, but especially good will you find corn, Irish potatoes, tomatoes and Lima beans. Strain the soup through a coarse colander when the meat has boiled to shreds, so as to get rid of the squirrels' troublesome little bones. Then return to the pot, and after boiling a while longer, thicken with a piece of butter rubbed in flour. Celery and parsley leaves chopped up are also considered an improvement by many. Toast two slices of bread, cut them into dice one-half inch square, fry them in butter, put them into the bottom of your tureen, and then pour the soup boiling hot upon them. Very good.

For the record, the old standby Joy of Cooking contained recipes for squirrel between 1943 and 1996 — complete with a drawing of a boot holding down the rodent’s hide.


Victoria Gorny said...

Many people on the west coast may be scratching their heads about this. The local squirrels are tiny compared to the eastern gray squirrel. Hardly worth the trouble.

Lauren said...

Seattle is overrun with imported eastern grey squirrels, although the rarely seen native western grey squirrel is even larger.

I'm puzzling over how you are supposed to remove the little bones by straining through a colander, but this is after you have added potatoes and lima beans?