Roasted Pigeon (Squab) with Celeriac Puree & Truffle Cabbage
In episode 2 of “Around the World with Manu” I cooked a VIP lunch at At.mosphere restaurant in the Burj Khalifa. The main, a roast pigeon breast (also known as squab) with celeriac puree, luscious buttered cabbage and loads of truffle, is an investment in time and ingredients — but the result is so worth it for that extra special meal.
- 2 whole pigeons (squab)
- 40 ml olive oil
- 40 g butter, softened, plus extra
- 5 sprigs thyme
For the confit legs
- approx 2 cups curing salt, to cover legs
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 10 black peppercorns
- 500 g duck fat
- ½ cup plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
- 250 ml mineral water or soda water
- neutral oil, for frying
For the jus
- 20 ml olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 stick celery, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, bruised
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 160 ml dry white wine
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 50 g butter OR foie gras, chopped
For the celeriac & apple puree
- ½ head celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 pink lady or royal gala apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 60 g salted butter
- 300 ml pure cream
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
For the savoy cabbage
- 80 g butter
- ¼ savoy cabbage, roughly shredded
- ½ fresh truffle, grated
- 4 pine mushrooms, sliced and a small handful of chanterelles – or your preferred wild mushrooms, depending on what is in season
- 20 g butter
- Shaved black truffle
- Dried rose petals
- Carefully break down each pigeon, placing wings and neck to one side (for the jus) and the legs to another. Keep the breast crown whole for roasting.
- For the confit legs, combine the salt, rosemary and peppercorns in a bowl. Push in legs, ensuring they are covered. Refrigerate and leave for 30 minutes.
- Rinse cured legs under cold water and pat dry, discard curing salt mixture.
- Place legs in a saucepan with duck fat over medium-low heat and simmer for 1 hour or until meat is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool in the oil before patting dry with paper towel. Set aside until required.
- Combine flour and water to make a batter and season with salt. Leave to rest until required later.
- For the jus, heat olive oil in a large saucepan or stock pot over a medium heat. Add the reserved pigeon bones (neck and wings) and cook, stirring, for 6 – 8 minutes until browned. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and thyme and cook for a further 5 minutes until golden and fragrant.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping to remove any cooked-on bits, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the black peppercorns and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, skimming the surface occasionally to remove impurities.
- Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve into a clean, large heavy-based saucepan and bring back to the boil over a high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for a further 40 – 45 minutes or until reduced to a thick sauce consistency.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the butter or foie gras, one piece at a time to make the jus glossy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm until required.
- For celeriac puree, place celeriac, apple and butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat and cover with a lid. Season with salt and cook for 30 – 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until celeriac is very tender.
- Transfer to a high speed blender and puree until smooth, adding a little cream to help the process if required. Pour into a saucepan, add the remaining cream and nutmeg and stir well. Bring to a gentle simmer, season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat and keep warm until required.
- For the pigeon, preheat an oven to 180°C. Combine olive oil, butter and leaves from the thyme and rub over pigeon crowns. Place an oven safe frying pan over a medium heat, and add the pigeon. Sear for a minute or two on each side before seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Transfer frying pan to the preheated oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- For savoy cabbage, place butter in a frying pan over a medium-low heat, add cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is nicely wilted but still has a little crunch. Add the grated truffle and mix to combine. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until required.
- To finish the confit legs, bring a saucepan of oil or deep fryer up to 200°C. Dip pigeon legs into the extra flour to dust, then into the batter you prepared earlier, gently shaking off any excess. Carefully drop into the hot oil and deep fry for a minute or two, just until the batter is crispy and slightly golden.
- Sauté mushrooms in the butter and season with salt to taste.
- To finish the pigeon, place the pan with the roasted pigeon crowns over a medium heat and add a little extra butter. Glaze meat with the pan juices and remove from heat. Carve each crown carefully to remove the breasts from the carcass, and return to the buttery pan to keep warm. Discard bones.
- To plate, warm plates in a moderate oven for a few minutes to take the chill away.
- Dollop a generous spoonful of celeriac puree onto the plate and drag the spoon through to create a smear.
- Place a spoonful of cabbage at the pointy end of the puree and drizzle a nice puddle of sauce next to that.
- Place a breast of pigeon into the sauce, and a leg just to one side.
- Scatter the mushrooms over the puree and finish with a generous shaving of truffle and rose petals.
Don’t miss all my destination tips from my time in Dubai!