Piccione are young, pre-flight pigeons. You might be appalled at the thought of eating one, but hold on. What we call pigeons each time we feel an unauthorized splat on the head while walking peacefully in the big city are not actually pigeons but a bird called rock doves, a relative of pigeons, but not something you’d slap on the grill. Piccione are dark-fleshed birds, and can be cooked medium (pink in the center) for the best taste when a bird is grilled. They can be cooked in liquid longer.
Squab don’t take well to the commercial treatment chickens get, so they’re likely to be treated well and raised in small batches.
The piccione in the picture is described on the menu as “piccione Disossato alla griglia” or boned grilled squab. After grilling, this example is expertly taken apart.
Piccione in salmì is made around Orvietto in Umbria. The young pigeon is cooked in a ceramic pot with onions, garlic, prociutto, lemon rind, herbs, wine and broth and served with toasted bread. It is especially enjoyed around Easter.
A Ragù di piccione can be used over pasta (or even in risotto) to make an excellent and elegant primo piatto as well.