Squab pigeon

No rest for the wicked. It’s back to the grindstone with a nice technical dish.

Pigeon. But not as you know it, Jim. It’s guinea fowl meets Choux Farci.

Pigeonneau en Habit Vert, ses Cuisses Farcies et Champignons Sauvage—Pigeon breast wrapped in cabbage, stuffed legs and wild mushrooms. Some butchery. Some building. Just my cup of tea. Lots of students cried off with hangovers so just half a class this afternoon. I’m loving the empty kitchen again. Peaceful. That doesn’t mean I was calm. I was running around like a blue-arsed fly trying to serve up in 2 hours.

In demo, chef said it’s a bit of a colourless dish in terms of garnish. I couldn’t be bothered to macédoine my carrot trimmings so no extra colour but I did opt for a chiffonade of cabbage. Same colour but at least it’s more vegetables on the plate. In my world, cabbage, and sprouts for that matter, do not need water. Slice ‘em thinly and lightly cook in butter with the lid on. No colour. No brown butter. Wonderful! Chef recommended throwing a herb in at the end to infuse for a minute or two. I must try that.

Squab pigeon isn’t much bigger than a quail. Maybe about the size of coquelet or poussin. Either way it’s butchery with a delicate touch. Cool. It was critical to remove the legs with as much skin as possible. That meant an incision down the back bone and the breast bone to take all the skin from each half of the bird. The breasts were removed from the carcass and didn’t require any skin. Fridge. Next the foie gras was pan fried. Carefully. Medium heat. Dry pan. The heat has to be high enough to sear the outside and cook the centre to creamy without burning. If the heat is too low the foie gras just melts in the pan. The pigeon breasts were added and cooked to rare in the foie gras fat. Flavour town. I made a chicken mousse and added brunoise of salted ham. I just had to crisp up the chicken skin.

Time to build.

A blanched cabbage leaf went into a ladle. Yep. The perfect mould for this job. The leaf was lined with mousse. In went the pigeon breast. More mousse. Foie gras. More mousse. The leaf was closed up and the ball wrapped in caul fat. Back to the legs. The thigh bone was removed and the leg stuffed with mousse. I managed to get a bit of foie gras in there too. FTW. The excess skin carefully enclosed all added extras. Then the legs were also wrapped in caul fat.

The cabbage balls and stuffed legs were seared in a pan to seal the caul fat then they went into the oven. Baste. Baste.

In a last minute dash, I managed to gently cook the wild mushrooms in butter with shallots and garlic. Plus a sprinkle of parsley.

Out pops the pigeon. The legs were glazed in the jus. Somewhere my jus got away from me. It started off well. Nice sucs in the pan from the pigeon trimmings. Good colour on the mirepoix. Deglazed with port. Reduced by half. Veal stock. Infused for 50 minutes. It didn’t boil. It had flavour but was running a bit thin. More reduction goddammit! And why oh why didn’t I pass it through damp muslin cloth before serving? Chef said reduce the port more to create a redder colour. My second jus at home worked out better.

My pigeon was perfectly cooked. Happy days.

What a nice surprise? Lunch and dessert in demo. I could get used to this.

Moelleux d’Orange et Citron Servi Tiède, Sauce au Chocolat Blanc et Cointreau. A warm orange cake. More like a fondant. The sponge was like a Madeleine with a lemon curd centre. The sauce was made with white chocolate and Cointreau sauce. Chef doubled the Cointreau. He said it was too sweet. Now it was boozy. But in a good way. A very good way. Almost a cocktail on its own. I could’ve drunk a glass of it. And then another.

Warm orange cake with a lemon curd centre, and white chocolate sauce with Cointreau