A Recipe from Our Cookbook: Pan-Seared Squab with Huckleberries, Onion Confit, and Wild Rice
This recipe is the result of Michael’s tireless search for the perfect interpretation of squab. In Welcome to Michael’s, he explains that the huckleberry sauce provides a necessary tartness to balance out the richness of the squab, a complement he sought to achieve an ideal harmony of flavors. If you can’t find huckleberries, black currants work just as well, and you can use fresh or frozen berries.
Pan-Seared Squab with Huckleberries, Onion Confit, and Wild Rice
- 4 squabs, boned except for leg and wing, quartered
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cups Pinot Noir
- 1/4 cup cassis syrup
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 2 cups huckleberries or black currants
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or good-quality canned chicken broth
- 5 tablespoons salted butter, cut into several pieces
- 1/2 pound wild rice, cooked
- 1/2 cup Onion Confit (click here for the recipe)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
The night before you plan to serve the squabs, or up to 2 days before, put them in a dish or bowl. Season all over with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, add the thyme sprigs, and turn the squab pieces to coat them thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until about 30 minutes before cooking time.
When you’re ready to cook the squabs, remove them from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature.
For the sauce, put the Pinot Noir, cassis syrup, shallots, and 1 1/2 cups of the huckleberries in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid had reduced by about three-quarters, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the stock and continue simmering until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing down on the solids with a wooden spoon. Rewarm the strained sauce over medium heat, then remove the pan from the heat, add 3 tablespoons of the butter pieces, and swirl the pan until the butter is incorporated, thickening the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
Wipe the marinade from the squabs and season them again with a little salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter starts to sizzle, add the squab pieces skin side down and sauté until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Tturn the pieces over and continue cooking until medium-rare, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
Stir the remaining huckleberries into the warm sauce. If necessary, gently rewarm the sauce.
To serve, mound some wild rice in the center of each serving plate. Place some of the onion confit on top of the rice. Arrange the squab quarters around the rice and spoon the sauce and berries over the squab. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.