Most people start a meal with a salad, but we ended our dinner with this dish. The salad was a savory dessert in a way, seemingly “lighter” than any cake or custard we could have had, but just as luxurious because squab is something you just don’t get to eat everyday. Even the showy flaming Armagnac in the pan feels something like one of those flaming tableside desserts at a restaurant.
We just might make a saladessert a regular thing.
Roast Squab, resting
Squab Livers and Armagnac
Roast Squab on Garden Lettuces
Squab Salad with Garden Lettuces
from the Chez Panisse Menus cookbook
3 squab, about 1 pound each, livers reserved
¾ cup virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons Armagnac
½ cup squab stock
1 tablespoon port
7 medium shallots
2 tablespoons to ½ cup sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
reserved pan juices from the squab
8 handfuls of 2- to 3-inch lettuces and salad herbs (rocket, garden cress, watercress, chicory, dandelion greens, red leaf or oak leaf lettuces)
optional: minced black truffle, 1 to 2 tablespoons walnut oil
To Cook the Squab
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat and brown them, turning frequently. Add 2 tablespoons butter halfway through the browning. When the squab are browned (about 7 minutes), flame the pan with 3 tablespoons Armagnac. When the flame dies, move the squab, breast up, to a roasting pan. Pour off the oil from the saute pan and deglaze with ½ cup squab stock and 1 tablespoon port. Roast the squab in a preheated 475 degrees Fahrenheit oven, basting them three or four times with the deglazing juices for 10 to 12 minutes. The squab are done when the breast meat is still quite pink. Cool the squab at room temperature and reserve the juices.
Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the 3 reserved livers with 5 diced shallots. Turn the livers once or twice and saute for 1 to 2 minutes only. Flame the pan with 1 tablespoon Armagnac and add the reserved juices from the roasted squab. Remove the livers to cool at room temperature and strain the pan juices.
For the Vinaigrette
Fine-dice the remaining 2 shallots, and combine them with the remaining olive oil, the reserved pan juices, and vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. The amount of vinegar used will depend on the strength of the juices from the squab. Let the vinaigrette stand for 15-20 minutes, then strain. Add the truffles and walnut oil if desired and correct the seasoning.
To Assemble the Salad
Wash and dry the lettuces and herbs carefully. Remove the breasts from the squab and slice each breast on a diagonal into 3/8-inch slices. Slice the livers into 3/8-inch slices. Reserve the juices from slicing and stir them into the vinaigrette, Toss the lettuce leaves with enough vinaigrette to coat lightly, and put them on salad plates. Arrange the breasts on the lettuce and garnish the salad with the livers.