Roast Squab with Bacon and Grapes
- ACTIVE: 35 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR
- SERVINGS: 8
Wrapping a meaty bird like squab in bacon, then roasting it with fresh table grapes makes for an enticing main course that's salty, sweet, crispy and juicy all at the same time. Count Paolo Marzotto, an active sportsman, loves this dish with the partridges he hunts; squab is a delicious alternative.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons juniper berries, crushed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 8 squabs
- 8 slices of bacon, halved
- 3 cups red or green seedless grapes
- Preheat the oven to 450°. In a small bowl, blend the butter with the juniper and season with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Season the squabs with salt and pepper. Add 4 of the squabs to the skillet, breast side down, and cook over moderately high heat, turning a few times, until richly browned all over, about 12 minutes. Repeat with the remaining squab, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.
- Arrange the squabs breast side up on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Rub the squab cavities with the juniper butter. Arrange two bacon halves on each squab breast in a single layer. Scatter the grapes around the squab and roast in the upper third of the oven for about 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the legs registers 125° for medium-rare meat. Transfer the squab to a carving board and let rest for about 5 minutes.
- Using a large knife, cut each squab in half, cutting through the breast bone. Transfer the squabs to plates. Spoon the grapes and roasting juices on top and serve.
Earthy, gamey squab is an ideal partner for an Italian Merlot blend. In fact, Merlot grows quite well in Sicily's warm climate, and a number of producers make excellent bottlings.