Tender is the word for squab. Lean is another one. Just make sure to cook no more than medium rare or it loses its robust flavor and texture. Serve the squab with Spring Garlic Grist Mill Polenta.
Roast Carneros Squab with Pressed Sherry Jus
- 4 whole dressed squab (available from dartagnan.com)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, halved and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Three 3-inch sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup cream sherry
- 2 cups brown chicken stock (or 1 cup each chicken and beef broth)
- 2 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Remove the heads, feet, and wing tips from the squab and set aside. Make a small slit with a small knife between the legs below the breastbone and, working with your fingers, remove and discard the internal organs (heart, lungs, liver) and any viscera from the cavity. Rinse the cavity under cold running water. Pat the squabs dry and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Truss the birds with butcher’s twine (or simply tie the legs together).
- Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a 12-inch, heavy-duty, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Place the birds, breast side down, in the pan and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the birds to a plate. Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. Add the reserved heads, feet, and wing tips to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, and thyme and give them a stir. Place the squab on top, breast side up, and roast in the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a breast (without touching bone) registers 140°F for medium-rare, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer the birds to a cutting board, and let rest 5 minutes (the internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees) before serving.
- While the birds rest, tilt the pan and blot up any oil with a paper towel. Put the pan over medium-high heat, add the sherry, and deglaze by scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spatula; boil until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the stock and boil again until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the heads and feet. Place the wing tips with some of the reduced stock in a blender and pulse a few times until the bones are crushed. Return the mixture to the pan and simmer all for a few minutes. Strain the mixture from the pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan, pressing lightly on, and then discarding the solids. Skim off any surface fat. Over low heat, whisk the butter into the sauce, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Remove the twine, quarter the squab with a cleaver or large knife, and arrange on a platter. Serve the squab with the sauce.