Grilled Squab with Bourbon, Honey, and Soy

This is my favorite way to prepare and to eat squab. The traditional Chinese marinade produces a velvety-textured bird.

Unlike chicken, grilled squab are best served rare to medium-rare. The longer you grill them, the tougher and drier they become. Cooking them on a home broiler will take a bit longer than grilling over mesquite or charcoal. You should test for doneness rather than relying on times suggested in recipes; a discreet probe with a sharp knife will show you how far you have gone.


  • 6 squab, about 1 pound each (see note)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • freshly ground pepper



To butterfly the squab, cut down both sides of the backbone and remove. Then carefully remove the breastbone, the central cartilage, and ribs. Place the squab in a shallow nonaluminum container. Combine all the remaining ingredients except the pepper and pour over the squab. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Do not marinate more than 24 hours or the ginger will cause the meat to break down and become mushy.)

Bring the squab to room temperature. Heat a grill or broiler. Remove the squab from the marinade and sprinkle with a bit of pepper. Grill or broil, skin side away from the flame, about 4 minutes. Then turn and cook 3 more minutes. (Do not worry if the squab are very brown–the honey will caramelize and give the squab a great flavor.) Transfer to 6 serving plates and serve with rice, sprinkled with chopped green onion, and stir-fried snow peas, grilled Japanese eggplant, or sautéed spinach.