Tuesday, August 24, 2010

$20 pigeon dinner

hello and happy tuesday! i feel like i've been walking the wrong way up an escalator lately - i have a list of things to do that doesn't seem to shrink no matter how much i do towards it. one of those things permanently on the to-do list is write a blog post, damn it! so email-answering and caterer-searching be damned, i'm doing this thing.

through the viewfinder

gratuitous fiance shot

i spent ten days in maine with sam about a week ago and it was glorrrrrious. a couple days in portland, where we stumbled upon a bookstore devoted entirely to food and cookbooks (i picked up a great book on canning that i'll try to share from as the weather cools down), ate more than our share of amazing food, and hiked down to the ocean and back through these gorgeous woods that were absolutely overrun with mushrooms of every kind. at the risk of sounding like a weirdo, mushrooms are so graceful and gorgeous. sam snagged a book on foraging at aforementioned bookstore, so i'm pretty sure we've got ourselves a new hobby.

we then spent a week in a small town about 30 minutes outside the city, in a cabin that belongs to a friend's family. i'm so used to cooking whenever i go stay with anyone - i love cooking for people (obviously) and most people are happy to sit back and let someone else take care of the meals for a while - so i was surprised and delighted to find out that the patriarch of the family has worked in kitchens all his life and absolutely loves to cook. we ate like kings. family style dinners every night that were so different from what i usually cook - something about me gravitates towards complicated food. i rarely just choose a meat and prepare it simply; i grew up mostly vegetarian, so i never really learned how to cook meat properly, and even after i started cooking meat i just kind of shied away from the things i hadn't eaten growing up. so things like pork shoulder and braised short ribs were relatively new experiences to me, and i couldn't get enough.

so, when sam and i were grocery shopping the other day (i think between the two of us we probably go to some form of grocery store, be it fairway or bodega, about 17 times a week) and he spotted a fancy fowl section, we decided to try something new and buy a squab. it was $18.35 for about a pound. a little outrageous, but we had both *heard* of squab, and we were pretty sure it was kind of fancy and delicious, so we decided to just go for it. (this story may make me sound kind of stupid. i did go to culinary school, but i'm a pastry chef! we learned nothing about meat of any kind. not a thing.) we brought it home and i busted out a few cookbooks looking for recipes; nothing sounded quite right, so we hit the internet and i found a good, simple roasted squab recipe. and on the way learned what squab is, exactly: pigeon. we paid $20 a pound to eat the awful birds i scuffle past on the street on a daily basis. but you know what? that is one tasty sky rat. very rich, fatty tasting meat, kind of like duck; i highly recommend it. here's what i did with mine.

you need:

a squab
some shiitake mushrooms (maybe 7-8 decent sized ones), sliced
a few T butter
some garlic
some rosemary (or whatever herbs you want to use)
about 1/3 cup of red wine (i used a malbec, but any not-too-sweet, full wine will work [ithink])
salt & pepper
aaand i served mine over some multigrained rice.

turn your oven up to 450 and let it get there.

get a small, oven safe pan - big enough for the squab but not much bigger. put some butter on it - a couple tablespoons, chopped up a little - and then some herbs and salt and pepper, and i covered mine in minced garlic. get your rice cooking while you're heating up the oven, slice your mushrooms, drink some wine. so once the oven is preheated, put the bird in there and let it be for about 7 minutes. open the oven and spoon the butter and juices back over the bird and rotate it. cook another 7 minutes and do the same thing. you can flip the bird itself over at this point too. i cooked mine for about 20 minutes - you know it's done when you pierce the skin and the meat feels firm but flakes up. it will keep a deep red color - it's supposed to be kept somewhat rare. at this point you should have your mushrooms heating up in a saute pan with a bit of butter; take the squab out of its pan and let it rest on a cutting board, then deglaze the pan with the red wine and pour the whole juicy lot into the saute pan with the mushrooms. cook until it's reduced nicely; split the squab down the middle; put it on the rice; spoon/pour the mushrooms over it. enjoy with the rest of the wine. cheers!

so i may have overcompensated for my absence with way too many photos. if so, i apologize.

more food soon.

xo audrey


  1. Looks delish! And I am so jealous that you went to Maine!! I've always wanted to go!

  2. I have heard about squab...thanks for sharing!

    My husband and I adore Maine, we try to go to Portland a few times a year and hope to someday live in Cape Elizabeth although our dream would be to live up on Mount Desert Island.
    But coming from NJ, the reality is the closer to the city the better for us.
    Too rural = too much
    Although a nice summer home could work, no?

  3. I'm going to Portland next weekend and just know my husband would love to see these mushrooms - do you know more of an exact location of the woods where you found them? Thanks!

  4. Ok first, I LOVE the photos. They look great. Second....the mushrooms are AMAZING. That photo of the yellow mushroom with the caterpillar and the rich soil sprinkled on top is so perfect it looks staged (I'm sure it wasn't but love it either way). And, of course, your food looks delicious. I'm glad you incorporated a recipe with mushrooms into the post....tres appropriate!!!

  5. laura, go to maine!! it was so lovely and really not too expensive to be able to really enjoy it.

    eleanor - yeah, we looved it. i think we may be considering a move up to portland sometime in the nearish future. . .

    amanda - yes! it was in wolfe's neck state park. we parked in i think the second parking lot and hiked down to the water and back. i can't say you'll take the exact same hike we did, but you'll probably see many mushrooms wherever you end up.

    stylefyles - not staged!! the number of photos of mushrooms i took was completely appalling though. believe it or not this is but a small sampling.

  6. gorgeous, gorgeous mushroom photos. i just spent a month in alaska and saw (and took pictures of!) loads of mushrooms there. i definitely want to get nerdy about fungus.

  7. i see them in cages at the live poultry store near me, and well, you are brave... it looks much better when you cooked it! but cannot believe it's so expensive!

  8. Too many photos...but amazing photos!At the end of it.. I was expecting to see a photo of you in a dress inspired by all those mushrooms!! Didn't turn out that way....
    Greetings from an Indian blogger.