4 squabs of Cornish hens, wings removed (may also remove wishbone to make slicing easier)
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small head Bibb lettuce
3 bunches other delicate salad greens
1/2 small head baby chicory, yellow and white leaves only
12-16 small leaves mizuna or watercress
2 teaspoons sherry
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season birds with salt and peppers, both skin and body cavity.

Heat oil in medium ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat. Add birds and cook on all sides for about 4 minutes. Place pan in oven and roast for 15 minutes, basting frequently in juices, until cooked medium rare. Remove from oven.

Cut off legs and remove breast meat from bones. Reserve legs and breast halves, keeping warm. Reserve carcasses for dressing (see recipe, below).

Rinse and dry all lettuce leaves and set aside in large bowl. Whisk together sherry, vinegar, oils, salt, and pepper. Toss with lettuces. Arrange a leg and breast meat on each salad plate along with dressing and sweet-potato confetti (see recipe, below).

Dried-cherry and Sorghum Syrup Dressing

Squab wings and carcasses reserved from previous recipe, chopped (may also add chicken bones)
2 cups veal demiglace (available canned or frozen; reduce by half to concentrate)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup sorghum syrup
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil or other nut oil
2 shallots, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons prepared Dijon mustard
Salt to taste

Combine squab wings and carcasses and demiglace in small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain demiglace and set aside, keeping warm.

Place cherries and brandy in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and pour into small bowl. Set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes. Heat sorghum syrup in small saucepan over medium heat. Boil hard for 4 minutes to caramelize, shaking pan to prevent burning. Pour over cherry mixture.

Heat hazelnut oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute 1 minute. Add vinegar and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes, or until pan is dry. Add cherry mixture and cook for about 5 minutes, or until pan is dry. Add demiglace and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and stir in mustard. Season with salt and serve warm with squab salad.

Sweet-Potato Confetti

1 large sweet potato, peeled
3 cups vegetable oil

Julienne sweet potato and pat dry. Heat oil to 300 degrees in medium deep-sided stockpot. Fry in small batches for about 4 minutes each, stirring constantly with large slotted spoon. Spread in thin layers on paper towels to drain. Serve immediately with squab salad.

Recipe from A Texas Style Christmas Feast Meets West. Texas Monthly, December 1992.