2000s Recipes + Menus

Potted Stuffed Squab

  • Active Time:1 hr
  • Start to Finish:2 hr
January 2008
When a meat is "potted," it's usually preserved beneath a layer of fat or made into a paste such as shrimp paste or deviled ham. Miss Lewis, however, merely cooked the birds in an iron pot on the stove. She gives the option of roasting in the oven, and that's what we did because it plays up the contrast between the rich, tender, moist dark meat and the crisp skin. Miss Lewis would never waste any part of such a luxurious bird, so she chops up the livers and adds them to the bread stuffing, which may look unprepossessing but is actually delicious. This is a simple, elegant meal, so treat yourself to a wonderful Bordeaux.
  • 5 (1/2-inch-thick) slices good-quality white sandwich bread such as a pullman loaf, crusts discarded
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 (1-lb) squabs, livers coarsely chopped and reserved for stuffing
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Equipment:

    kitchen string; a fat separator
  • Garnish:

    chopped parsley
  • Preheat oven to 375ºF with rack in middle.
  • Arrange bread in 1 layer in a shallow dish and pour milk over it. Soak bread, turning once, just until it has absorbed most of milk, about 2 minutes. Squeeze excess milk from each slice, then tear bread into bite-size pieces, dropping them into a bowl. Discard milk.
  • Melt 1/2 stick butter and add to bread along with livers, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring to combine.
  • Rinse squabs and pat dry. Chop off necks and wing tips and scatter in a large shallow baking pan. Divide stuffing among cavities of squabs, then close openings with wooden picks. Tie legs of each squab together with string and secure wings to sides with wooden picks.
  • Stir together 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and rub all over squabs.
  • Arrange squabs in baking pan (with necks and wing tips), without crowding, then cut remaining stick butter into 8 pieces and put 2 pieces on top of each bird.
  • Roast, basting with butter from pan every 8 to 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of a thigh (do not touch bone) registers 160F, about 1 hour.
  • Transfer squabs to a platter and let stand, loosely covered with foil, while making sauce. Discard necks and wing tips and pour pan juices into fat separator. Let stand 1 minute to allow fat to separate from juices. Add water (1/2 cup) to pan and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small saucepan along with pan juices and 1/4 cup fat from separator and simmer, whisking, until emulsified, about 1 minute. Serve squabs with sauce on the side.
Cooks' notes: Coconuts can sometimes be rancid. You may want to buy an extra one.
Orange can be cut 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
Ambrosia can be chilled up to 2 hours.
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