Chilli-charred Squab

Chilli-charred Squab

By
From
Moorish
Serves
4
Photographer
Mark Roper

Pigeon or squab (baby pigeon) are popular all over North Africa, especially in Egypt, where they are popular street food, grilled on charcoal barbecues. Pigeon’s dark meat is lovely and gamey. Consequently, it can take robust flavours such as chilli and garlic, and marries well with warm spices such as cinnamon. Here the birds are spatchcocked, rubbed with a cinnamony, mildly hot spice mix and grilled on a high heat. It’s as simple as that.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
4 pigeons
lemon or lime wedges

Spice paste

Quantity Ingredient
garlic, crushed with 1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
Toum
or Juniper berry dressing with preserved lemons
or Walnut–pomegranate dressing
or Green coconut chutney

Method

  1. Use a heavy knife to trim the sad little claws from the birds’ elbows, cut off the wing tips and pull off any feathers still clinging to the skin. Split the pigeon down the backbone, and discard any innards. Flatten them out with their insides facing upwards. Carefully run a knife down each side of the breastplate (sternum), then use a strong pair of scissors to cut it away from the wing joints on either side. Carefully prise out the breastplate, peeling it away from the flesh. If you are at unsure about doing this ask the butcher to do it for you! Wash the birds well, inside and out, and pat them dry.
  2. to make the spice paste, stir the garlic paste with the spices and the olive oil to make a nice fragrant slush.
  3. Use your fingers to rub the paste all over the pigeon, inside and out, making sure you get into all the little cracks and crevices. Cover, refrigerate and allow to sit overnight for the flavours to permeate the flesh.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat your barbecue or griddle to its highest temperature. Cook the pigeon for 3 minutes, skin side down, then turn and cook for a further 3 minutes. We prefer pigeon to be cooked medium–rare, in which case it should be ready after about 6 minutes. Otherwise, cook the birds for a further 2–3 minutes, or until done to your liking. Serve them straight from the grill, with wedges of lemon or lime.
  5. Or accompany with a tangy dressing such as toum, juniper berry dressing with preserved lemons, walnut–pomegranate dressing or the deliciously cooling green coconut chutney.
Tags:
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Moorish
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