Come September, with the opening of hunting season, I start to crave squab. I grew up eating the small bird on my family's farm, and it's a very common dish in good French restaurants. In a sophisticated kitchen it will be boned, then roasted or grilled, and you'll find it in terrines, salads, and served stuffed.
To me, squab is one of the most delicate tasting fowl, a cross between chicken and duck, and slightly gamey. My version of roast squab is a Provençal-forestière hybrid, which means lots of garlic, onions, and artichokes, the "forest" flavor of mushrooms. A watercress and pear salad rounds out the meal.
Squab is usually a one-pound bird, the perfect serving for one person. If you can't find it in your supermarket, you can order it online or substitute Cornish game hen. There's really very little to do except prepare the vegetables and cook everything together. The pleasure of eating squab is to nibble around the bones— it's finger food at its most delicious!
What to Drink
"Earthy squab requires a wine with body and depth," says Daniel Johnnes, wine director of Daniel Boulud's restaurants, "yet one with enough refreshing acid or tannins to balance the rich texture of the meat." A red Burgundy, such as the silky Chambolle-Musigny 2009 ($60) from David Duband, fills the bill perfectly, he says. Another wine with similar properties is Viña Cubillo Crianza 2005 ($24) from R. López de Heredia in Rioja, Spain.