Seared Squab with Dirty Rice
Squabs are split, then pan-seared and finished in the oven. They are serve atop a bed of dirty rice — a Louisiana name denoting rice colored with bits of giblets. A halo of bright blanched baby carrots and haricots verts rings the rice, and Port wine reduction sauce is drizzled over the dish. Notice how Chef Kearney maximizes every bit of flavor, utilizing the gizzard poaching liquid and pan juices from step to step.
- Squabs - 4, including giblets
- Dirty Rice
- Gizzards and hearts (reserved from above)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Cayenne Pepper - 1/8 teaspoon
- Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
- Bay Leaves - 4
- Chicken Stock - 1 cup
- Livers (reserved from above)
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoons
- Celery - 3 stalks, deribbed and minced
- Onion - 1, minced
- Garlic - 1 clove, chopped
- Brandy - 1/4 cup
- Garlic - 3 whole cloves, peeled
- Long-grain white rice - 4 cups, cooked
- Green Onion - 8, cleaned and finely chopped
- Parsley - 1 bunch, finely chopped
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Port Sauce
- Port Wine - 1 cup
- Shallot - 1, minced
- Thyme - 1 sprig
- Chicken Stock - 1/2 cup
- Demi-glace - 1/2 cup
- Rendered Foie Gras Fat - 1 tablespoon (alt. unsalted butter)
- Baby Carrots - 8, cleaned and split in half lengthwise
- Haricots Verts - 16 to 20 (alt. baby green beans)
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
To prepare the squabs: Cut each squab in half lengthwise, removing the backbone, tail, and large breast bone. Cut away the first two joints of the wing tips. The bones and wing tips may be frozen and used separately for stock. Separate the gizzards, hearts, and livers. Loosely wrap the squabs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Reserve the gizzards, hearts, and livers for liver paste for the rice.
To prepare the liver paste: Cut the gizzards and hearts into small chunks. Season with a pinch of salt, a few grindings of pepper, and a pinch of the 1/8-teaspoon of cayenne. Place in a saucepan with the garlic, bay leaves, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the innards are soft. Drain, reserving the poaching liquid, and set aside
Pat the livers dry and season with a little salt, pepper, and another pinch of the cayenne. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet and add the livers, being careful of spatters. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds, until just slightly browned, then turn and cook the same amount of time on the other side. Remove from pan and reserve on a plate. Leave the juice in the pan and add the celery and onion. Place over medium heat and stir up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery and onions have wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and another pinch of cayenne. Add the chopped garlic clove and stir; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in the brandy. Place back over the heat; the brandy will flame. When the flame dies and the vegetables are tender, combine with the gizzards, hearts, and whole garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor and puree to form a paste. Set aside.
To make the sauce: Combine the Port, shallot, and thyme in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture is almost boiled dry. Add the stock and demi-glace and stir to blend; cook again until the sauce is syrupy. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and set aside. Keep warm.
To prepare the vegetables: Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil and add the carrots. Return to a boil, cook 1 minute, and remove with a slotted spoon; plunge the carrots into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Remove from the water and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the haricots verts (green beans)
To cook the squab: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Heat one half of the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Sear one half of the squab pieces, skin side down, until browned, about 1 minute. Turn and sear on the other side for another minute, until well browned. Remove the squab pieces and place in a large baking pan. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and squab pieces. When all squab pieces are browned, put the baking pan in the oven and finish the squabs, 4 to 5 minutes. Reserve the squab pan with its juices. When the squabs are finished, remove and keep warm.
To make the rice: Add the gizzard poaching liquid to the squab pan over medium heat and stir up the browned bits from the bottom. Add the liver paste and stir to blend. Stir in the rice with a wooden spoon, tossing the rice with the liver mixture and poaching liquid. When thoroughly blended, remove from heat and add the green onions and parsley. Add the butter and toss until the butter has melted.
To serve: Warm 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet and add the carrots and haricots verts. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until warmed through. Divide the vegetables among the serving plates and arrange in a rough circle around the plates. Place a large mound of rice in the center of each plate, inside the vegetables. Place two squab halves on each mound of rice. Drizzle with Port sauce.