Squab with Grapes
Peel me a grape — in fact, 48 of them. This lovely and simple dish of marinated, sauteed squab includes 12 large whole, peeled grapes for each person. Chef Billoux removes the seeds with a very clever tool: he bends open a paper clip, then uses one of the rounded ends to reach down into the grape from the stem end and pull out the seeds without breaking the whole grape.
- Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
- Carrots - 2, chopped
- Onions - 2, chopped
- Shallots - 2, chopped
- Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
- Bouquet Garni - 1
- Madeira - 1/2 cup
- Dry White Wine - 3/4 cup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Squabs - 4, cleaned
- Unsalted Butter - 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick)
- Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
- Creme Fraiche - 1-1/2 cups
- White grapes - 48 large, peeled and seeded
In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and saute the carrots, onions, shallots, and garlic until softened but not colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining marinade ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes; let cool to room temperature.
Bone the squab and cut down either side of the backbone; lift out the bone. Crack the cartilage in the breast and flatten the squabs. Pour the marinade in a large deep baking dish or large zipper plastic bags and add the squab; turn to coat all sides. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Lift the squabs from the marinade and drain. Melt the butter and swirl in the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the squabs, skin-side down. Saute 1 to 2 minutes, until browned; turn and brown on the other side. Season with salt and pepper and add a few tablespoons of marinade to the pan. Cook 4 – 5 minutes total, basting the squabs continually with the pan juices as they cook. Turn again twice during the cooking process. Drain off any grease. Pour the marinade through a strainer into the pan and continue to cook, basting with the marinade, until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove the squabs and set aside; keep warm. The squabs should still be pink inside.
Increase the heat to medium-high and reduce the juices by half again. Lower the heat to medium-low. Lift the pan from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche. Whisk to blend with the pan juices, then add the peeled grapes. Return to the stove and warm through, 1 to 2 minutes.
To serve: Place a squab, skin-side up, in the center of each serving plate. Surround each with 12 grapes. Spoon sauce over the grapes and around the squabs.