The purpose of the berry puree is to glaze the skin for crispness and give it color, without having to overcook the bird. With the berry marinade, the skin crisps up right away, and the acid in the berries counteracts and balances the richness of the squab and gives a richness of color variation over the surface of the bird. Instead of raspberries, blackberries or blueberries can be used. The recipe was inspired by the seventeenth-century cookbook
Cut the backbones from the squabs. Flatten the birds and fold the wings under. Select 24 raspberries for garnish and puree the rest through a sieve. Divide the puree in half. Mix 1 half with the butter, salt, and pepper in a food processor and stir
Meanwhile, blanch the salt pork, rinse, and drain. Trim the squab livers. Mix the remaining olive oil and the thyme and marinate the salt pork, livers, hearts, and mushrooms in the oil for 45 minutes; then put them on skewers.
Start a charcoal fire or heat the broiler.
Grill the squabs breast side down for 5 minutes, moving them to a cooler part of the grill if they begin to brown too fast. Turn the squabs and grill cavity side down until the breast meat feels firm to the touch, about 8 minutes. Don’t overcook them; they are best still a little pink. Put them aside to rest for 5 minutes, while you grill the skewers for 5 minutes, turning them often.
Mix salt and pepper with the lemon juice and whisk in the walnut oil. Dress the watercress and put it on warm plates. Put the squabs in the center of each plate and the skewers around. Dress the whole raspberries in the sauce remaining in the bowl and scatter them around the plate. Put some of the raspberry butter on top of each bird and serve.
© 1986 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.