Squab with Lentils and White Onion Fondue
Lentils cooked with cinnamon and cardamom and onion fondue (puree) form a bed for browned squab. Orange zest is added to the pan juices and warmed to make a tangy little sauce to pour over the squab. Fried potato slices garnish the plates; the potatoes served by the chef are simply cut in smooth oval slabs, but you could use specialty cutters to create crisscross potatoes if you wish.
- Honey Lentils
- Red and Black Lentils - 1 cup
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Onion - 1, chopped
- Garlic Cloves - 2, minced
- Chestnuts - 1 cup, quartered
- Dry white wine - 1/2 cup
- Coriander - 1/4 teaspoon
- Cardamom - 1/4 teaspoon
- Bay Leaves - 2
- Black peppercorns - 1 tablespoon, crushed
- Chicken Stock - 1/2 cup
- Honey - 2 teaspoons
- Balsamic Vinegar - 1 tablespoon
- Salt to taste
- Potatoes - 2 large
- Peanut oil for frying
- Onion Fondue
- Onions - 4, quartered
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Light Cream - 1/4 cup
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Boned Squab - 4
- Zest of 1/2 orange
- Flash-fried leek julienne (see Basics) - 1 cup
- Flash-fried chervil (see Basics) - 1 cup
To prepare the lentils: Put the lentils in a large pan or bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight, then drain in a colander. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the onions are softened and translucent, 3 – 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the drained lentils and saute for 1 minute, tossing occasionally to keep from sticking. Add the chestnuts and wine and stir gently with a wooden spoon to bring up the browned bits. Stir in the coriander, cardamom, bay leaves, and peppercorns and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the stock, then the honey. Reduce heat to medium again. Simmer for 20 – 25 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and salt, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To prepare the potatoes: Peel the potatoes and slice into long thin flat slabs on a mandoline or V-slicer. Heat 2 inches of peanut oil to 340 F in a deep fryer or large saucepan. Lower a few of the potato slices into the oil, watching for spatters, and fry until they are pale golden, 5 – 6 minutes. Remove with a wire skimmer and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining potatoes, being careful not to crowd the oil and letting the oil return to temperature between each batch. The fried potatoes can stay at room temperature up to 2 hours before final frying.
To make the onion fondue: Put the onions and bay leaf in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain. Remove the bay leaf. Place in a food processor with the cream and puree, then pass through a fine-meshed sieve. Season with salt and pepper.
To prepare the squab: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sear the quail 3 – 4 minutes, until crisp. Turn with tongs and sear the other side 3 – 4 minutes, until crisp. Holding the squab with tongs, sear any remaining sides. Place back in the skillet and put the skillet in the oven. Roast for 7 – 8 minutes; the squab meat will still be slightly pink. Remove the squabs from the skillet and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 5 – 10 minutes, keeping them warm.
Add the orange zest to the juices in the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To serve: Heat the peanut oil for the potatoes to 375 F. Lower 3 – 4 slices of potato into the oil and fry for 2 minutes, until golden. Remove and drain on paper towels; repeat with remaining potatoes. Again, do not crowd the oil.
Spread a bed of lentils and onion fondue on each serving plate. Place a squab on each. Pour the meat juice sauce over each. Place 3 pieces of potato on each plate. Garnish with fried leek and chervil.