Spiced Squabs with Onion Compote

Squab resists getting crispy even when it's roasted at high heat. Jean-Georges Vongerichten achieves both supercrisp skin and tender meat by butterflying the bird (cutting out the backbone and pressing on the breast bone to make the bird as flat as possible) and grilling it under the broiler. Then he adds a characteristic Asian fillip reminiscent of Hong Kong fried chicken: He sprinkles his golden bird with a mix of cumin, ground ginger, curry powder and cinnamon.

Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 6 medium onions (2 pounds), halved and thinly sliced

  • Water

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Four 1-pound squabs, butterflied

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 ounces baby arugula

  • Golden Corn Cakes, for serving


  1. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 35 minutes; add 2 tablespoons of water as necessary during cooking to prevent the onions from drying out. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. On a rimmed baking sheet, season the squabs with salt and pepper. Broil the birds 8 inches from the heat for about 20 minutes, turning the baking sheet occasionally, until the skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the breast registers 145° for medium-rare.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the cumin with the ginger, curry powder and cinnamon. Sprinkle the spices on both sides of the hot squabs.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the arugula and toss to coat. Spoon the onion compote onto plates. Arrange the squabs and Golden Corn Cakes on the plates, mound the arugula on the side and serve.

Make Ahead

The onion compote can be refrigerated overnight and reheated.

Suggested Pairing

Like most dark-meat birds, squab is better with red wine than white. Red Burgundy (made from Pinot Noir) has a juicy earthiness that is marvelous with the little birds. Top Burgundies are very expensive, but some outlying towns in the region—Chorey-lès-Beaune is one example—provide terrific wines at moderate prices.

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