I have to say I’ve never had squab pie; I always thought it was pigeon or rook pie and a country dish. Pigeons and rooks are seen as vermin and shot or caught to stop them eating a farmer’s crops, particularly cereal. Pigeons are still eaten, and they are not hard to get hold of – I don’t mean run out and grab a pigeon off the street or out of your garden, I mean you can find them in butcher’s and supermarkets. However, I think you might find it extremely difficult to get hold of a young rook, or enough young rooks to make a pie. I daresay if you live in the country there will be someone who could get them for you or get them for your butcher! Make sure though, that you have what are called ‘branchers’, young rooks which can’t yet fly as they are tasty and tender. In some of the recipes I’ve seen, chicken and or beef is added to the rook meat. If I have pigeon, then I will often casserole it with beef – lovely gravy – but maybe next time I should make a pie.

Back to squab pie… apparently in many places squab pie is actually a lamb or mutton pie, especially in Devon, Gloucestershire and in Yorkshire. The recipes I’ve seen for this mutton/lamb pie have the interesting addition of apples and spices, usually nutmeg and cinnamon, which sounds curious to me and reminiscent of other recipes I’ve seen for tagine dishes. The word squab, meaning a young bird, probably originates in Scandinavia so how it also came to be associated with mutton I’m not sure!

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