Smoke-Roasted Squab

Use a smoker that has the drip pan under the rack holding the birds. In this way, the liquid keeps a moist vapor around the squab. The sauce and the boning can be done in advance, since the squab halves can rest in the sauce. When reheating them, never let the sauce boil or they will become tough and overcooked. Plain watercress, or a mixed vegetable ragout, or a turnip and mixed root vegetable creamed gratin, would make a wonderful accompaniment.

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh squabs, preferably with feet and heads
  • 2 quarts stock, veal, mixed veal and chicken, or duck
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed, leaves chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup Cabernet or Zinfandel
  • 2 tablespoons sweet butter

Method

Remove and chop the necks and feet of the squabs and add them to the stock.

Truss the squabs and marinate them in the thyme, salt, pepper, and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

When the birds have marinated, brown them rapidly all over in the remaining olive oil in a sauté pan.

Put them in the smoker (see headnote) over a low fire that has been perfumed with vine cuttings or fruitwood. Smoke for about 1 hour, less if you like rare squab.

Remove the birds from the smoker and put them aside to cool. When the birds are cool, bone them into halves. Chop up the carcasses and add to the stock. Pour the stock and red wine into a pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and degrease the sauce.

Put the meat in the warm (not hot) sauce and slowly heat it. Remove the meat to a serving plate. Whisk the butter into the sauce and pour over the squab.

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