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Chef squirrels away popular ingredient this Burns Night
This Burn’s night (25 January), instead of tucking into traditional haggis, a restaurant in Edinburgh will be giving diners the option of the dish with a twist.
Paul Wedgwood, owner and Head Chef of Wedgwood the Restaurant, on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, is known for his foraging and use of fresh seasonal produce, using ingredients from the land, sea and sky. Paul has foraged in many locations throughout the UK, and this year, will cook with ingredients that take the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties to a whole new level.
Wedgwood the Restaurant will be offering haggis made using squirrel.
Paul began foraging from a very young age on camping trips with the Cub Scouts, when he was taught about the wild edibles all around him. This is where his passion stems from and he has been doing it ever since. For the past year, Paul has endeavoured to take his love of foraging further, with the aim of discovering a new ingredient each month to use in a variety of dishes at the restaurant.
Paul explains what possessed him to cook with squirrel: “I use grey squirrel for several reasons; it’s healthy, nutritious, very low in fat and actually really delicious. It’s also a natural pest in this country so, by eating them, we are helping the native red squirrel too. I’ve never had a negative comment from a diner who has eaten squirrel in the restaurant; it’s always been given the thumbs up and people say they would definitely eat it again. My favourite way to serve the squirrel haggis at the moment is accompanied with haggis made from its own offal, braised pearl barley, winter chanterelles, carrot puree, carrot fondant and a rich jus.”
Over the past few years a new breed of chefs has been serving up these grey squirrels more and more on their restaurant menus. Squirrels are low in fat, low in food miles and are completely free range; not to mention they are in abundance throughout the UK. The flavour could generally be described as a cross between chicken and rabbit, but sweeter and with a firmer texture. As these little creatures feast on a diet of pecans and acorns, their meat is nutty and sweet, buttery and tender. Squirrels are also packed full of protein – higher than a standard serving of beef or chicken. The meat is also a good source of iron, niacin, vitamin B6 and are an excellent source of vitamin B12.
Award-winning Wedgwood the Restaurant was opened in 2007 by Paul and Lisa Wedgwood who wanted to create their “perfect night out” in friendly, unpretentious surroundings.
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