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Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

(Piccione Farcito allo Spiedo)

Other small birds can he used for this recipe, such as quail or Cornish hens or even chicken, but the cooking time will need to be adjusted. When done, an instant- read thermometer inserted in the thigh and not touching bone will register 165°F, or the juices will run clear when the thigh is pierced with a knife, if you don't have a rotisserie, simply use metal skewers and turn the birds on the grill every 10 minutes.
Serves 6


    • 6 squabs
    • Extra-virgin olive oil for coating, plus oil for basting
    • Sea salt for sprinkling
    • 3 slices country-style bread (3 ounces), crusts removed
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 4 Italian-style pork sausages
    • 5 ounces pancetta, diced
    • 3 tablespoons raisins
    • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
    • 2 large egg yolks, beaten
    • A few gratings of nutmeg
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 onions, cut into wedges


Prepare a medium-hot indirect fire in a charcoal grill fitted with a rotisserie. Coat the squabs with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

Tear the bread into pieces and place in a medium bowl. Add the milk and let stand for 10 minutes, or until softened. Remove the casings from half of the sausages. Add the sausage meat, pancetta, raisins, and pine nuts to the bowl with the bread and milk. Add the egg yolks and mix well. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Stuff one-sixth of the meat mixture into the body cavity of each squab. Close the openings with toothpicks.

Cut the remaining sausages into 2-inch lengths. Skewer the squabs crosswise, inserting the spit just under the wings and alternating each bird with a piece of sausage and a wedge of onion. Grill the pigeons over the indirect fire for about 30 minutes, or until they test done, basting them periodically with olive oil, if needed.


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