Moroccan Fried Squab with Saffron and Ginger

The original recipe for this dish did not call for a marinade, but we find that it adds a depth of flavor to the flesh of the squab that the sauce can only add to the surface. Marinate the squab overnight, if possible. The sauce can be made ahead of time and reheated. The Moroccans partially braise the squab in the sauce, then remove the birds and deep-fry them. As this is a little messy and there is a danger of overcooking the squab, we deep-fry the squab separately and then top with the sauce. It is cleaner in technique, and the bird stays moist and properly rare. You may also grill, broil, or saute the squab.

Ingredients

  • 4 squabs, about 1 pound each

Marinade

  • Scant ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine, warmed
  • 1 cup mild olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

Sauce

  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine, warmed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Peanut oil for deep-frying
  • cups (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Method

Remove the heads and feet from the squab. To butterfly, insert a sharp knife at the neck cavity of each bird and carefully cut down one side of the backbone. Cut along the other side of the backbone to separate it from the body. Remove the breastbone, central cartilage, and ribs.

For the marinade, steep the saffron in the wine about 15 minutes. Combine with the remaining marinade ingredients in a shallow nonaluminum container. Turn the squab in the marinade, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare the sauce: Steep the saffron in the wine about 15 minutes. Heat the butter in a medium sauté or sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Stir in the saffron infusion, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken stock, heat to simmering, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and taste and adjust the seasoning.

Heat enough oil to cover the squab in a deep fryer to 350°F (see Note). Mix the flour, ginger, and salt and pepper to taste. Lightly beat the eggs with the water in a shallow bowl. Remove the squab from the marinade; dip in the egg wash to coat and then in the seasoned flour. Deepŵy until golden, about 5 minutes. Serve with the sauce and saffron-flavored couscous.