Posted in Back in the Day, From Scratch, Historical, The Hungry Hen, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

Thomas Jefferson’s Squab in Compote

Like always, let’s get down to the story behind the recipe….

5328222The American Heritage Cookbook

More Than 500 easy-to-make Recipes

Complete and up-to-date

Together with

40 Historic Menus

This one is so rare or unwanted; I couldn’t even find a good picture of the cover anywhere— not even Amazon. I can’t imagine overlooking something that I truly treasure. And yet, there it is, the lack of proof, desirable proof, all across the internet. Go figure.

Regardless, I’m going to show it off. This book of mine may have been published in 1964, 1969 by American Heritage Publishing by the Editors of American Heritage, the magazine of History, but it happens to contain printings of Covers, Ads, Cartoons and serious Art dating back as far as the 1700’s. Not only that but at the beginning of most of the recipes or shoved in between, there are little scraps of historical delights — maybe it’s a quote by a famous name, historical fact of the time that the recipe circulated, recipe origin or cookware and item.

Whatever the treasure, I still laugh a little when I read part of the title, Complete and up-to-date. I think of that and some of the recipes inside, like Philadelphia Pepper Pot, with a story attached to it dating all the way back to 1777-78. It was a relentless winter, a quote directly from the book. It goes on to explain how low morale was at Valley Forge. Washington tried to order up a meal that would lift the spirits of his troops. So came the following creation made up of only what the Cook had at the time— tripe, peppercorns and scraps. Tripe, in case you don’t know, is the stomach lining of a cow or what they used to call, Bovine. These, however, are recipes that are complete and up to date — see why it makes me laugh— in a good way.

Mind you, I’m not snickering at the book. I love it. Inside is a winning lottery ticket of tons of great recipes and historical tidbits. I get to see firsthand what my ancestors ate and what they created during a time when, well, there wasn’t much to create with. In addition, a ton of truly great foods made with a simplicity that we may actually lack today. Some recipes have survived the times but I honestly wonder, how true are they to their roots — as true as this book claims to be— something which must be true because the ingredients are a mile long under some and why not? It’s all cooked up from scratch. No popping over to the grocery store to get broth or a Guinea Hen. And again, some of the pictures within — if only I had the guts to rip them out and frame them. Priceless. And the names of ingredients? I always have to grab a dictionary. So with that in mind, let’s start with this one . . .

Squab in Compote — according to the book, this is a French recipe that was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson. It should be located within his very own records at Monticello. I guess I should tell you what a Squab is first. I had to look it up but it happens to be Doves. Ready?

Squab in Compote

  • 6 plump squabs
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped carrot
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 slices of diced bacon
  • ¼ pound of sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup Sherry or Madeira (By my dictionary, Madeira is an amber dessert wine from the Madeira Islands)

Instructions are as follows . . .

First, ask your butcher to truss the squabs. (That means, tie the wings and legs of a bird before cooking it.)

Second, melt butter in a casserole — one with a tight fitting lid— add squabs along with onion, carrot, and salt. Sauté until delicately browned on all sides, turning the birds over frequently. Next, add bacon, mushrooms and the Sherry or Madeira.

Cover tightly and simmer gently for 40 – 45 minutes until tender when tested with a fork. Take care not to overcook or they will fall apart.

To serve, place on large croutons (traditionally used as a “mount” for small game birds) and spoon some of the sauce around.

I’m not sure why it has compote in the title of the recipe. When I looked that up it said a dessert or stew made of fruit or a dish with a stem used for serving fruit.

And while most readers would probably snicker and sneer at the thought of eating “doves”, I know quite a few Hunters in the South that will no doubt be cooking this recipe up. Either way, it’s something to tickle your historical curiosity as I’m stashing it away under From Scratch and Back in the Day and possibly, I’ll make a new category called Wild Game & Historical.



Stylist. Cover Artist. Author.

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