Friday, July 11, 2014

Dinner from the dovecote

DSC07430 (961x1300)I found a real butcher, alongside a real fishmonger, in Parkstone village last week.  Do you carry squab, I asked on impulse. “Not in the warmer weather, but I can always order it.”  ‘way cool; it was time for a MasterChef Moment.

I’ve been experimenting with Moroccan spices lately, hotter Ras el hanout and spicy Baharat.  It works well with salmon and with meats,  warming and exotic. 

Armed with Chef Ramal Al-Faqih’s Classic Lebanese Cuisine and Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food,DSC07389 (1300x955) we’ve started an exploration of saffron-scented rice (Roz bel Zafaran), orange flower water  lamb (Kasksou Tfaya), haddock and egg Kedgree, and Chicken Sofrito.  The results have been quite good.

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So, why not squab, fresh from someone’s dovecote?

The best collection of pigeon / dove recipes came from Hank Shaw, a specialist in cooking game birds.  Grilling was evidently the bet approach, so I prepped for an Egyptian–style recipe, laying in spices and oil.  Saturday the birds arrived at the butcher (Next time pheasant or quail?)  and I was off.

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Mixing, oiling, rubbing went well; my hands were burnt orange, but the little birds had a good aroma before going into the ‘fridge.

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I opted for a stovetop grilling method, a bit smoky and slow compared to outdoor grilling, and I had to turn the birds three times to get the bottom and breasts.  It turned out to take about twice as long as the recipe predicted to get the interior done, 7 minutes a side and 10 to the bottom.

DSC07429 (1300x975)With a salad and rice, it was a nice little meal.  The squab is coarser than chicken, but flavorful, with a bit of an iron tang and a a rich body.  There isn’t a lot of meat on them and it’s almost impossible to eat without picking it up, but overall not as difficult or as long to make as you might think.  ‘a nice alternative to guinea fowl or (for next time) quail.

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