Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Squab Salmi (Page 406)

RECIPE #1274

  • Date: Thursday, June 30, 2011 -- 7pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C+

I put off making this recipe because it looked insanely fussy. Indeed, it was. I started by cutting off the necks and wing tips from four squabs. (Aside: Does that look wrong to you? The internet tells me that the plural of squab is squabs, but I always thought it was just squab. Four squabs? Four squab? I don't know.) I then cut out their backbones and cut the backbones into pieces. I cut one of the squabs up into 2-inch pieces. I put the remaining three whole squabs in the fridge, while I browned all the cut-up squab pieces and their giblets (minus the livers) in butter with some carrot, celery, and onion. I added water and boiled to form a stock. I strained the stock, then seasoned the whole squabs with salt, pepper, and thyme. I poured melted butter over them and roasted them. Meanwhile, I cooked some carrots, celery, onion, and thyme in butter. I sprinkled flour over the vegetables, then added the stock and simmered. In a different pan I cooked mushrooms in butter. I pureed the vegetable and stock mixture, then added the mushrooms. I halved the squabs and added them too. I set up a double boiler and cooked the squabs further in the sauce on the double boiler. Meanwhile, I cut some rounds from slices of brioche. I browned the livers in butter and mashed them with Cognac, butter, salt, and pepper. I toasted the brioche rounds in butter, then spread them with the liver puree. I served the toasts with the squabs and sauce.

I never appreciate when a recipe seems especially designed to use up as many dishes as possible, and this was that kind of recipe. It took a roasting pan, three pots, two skillets, four cooking bowls, two cutting boards, etc. I am more than willing to engage in that kind of culinary fussiness if the results are outstanding, but that was just not the case here. The squab meat was pretty nicely cooked but the skin wasn't crispy, due to the moist heat cooking after the roasting (Why, oh why, does The Book like to do that?). The sauce was reasonably flavorful but thin. The toast got soggy as soon as the bird went on top of it. Soggy toast is always a sad thing. Overall the dish was a lot of fuss without a lot of reward. It was ok, but certainly not something I would make again, and not even something I particularly enjoyed eating.

This recipe isn't online.

Only 19 recipes left to go!

We have two freezers at home: the one attached to our refrigerator, and a medium size standing freezer which we keep in the basement. On a typical day both of our freezers are bursting at the seams. I hate for food to go to waste, and I love the convenience of frozen food, so I freeze everything. We don't buy any frozen prepared foods, but given the variety of foods that we make, there is still a wide selection of frozen dinners at our house. Right now if you rummaged through our freezers you would find brisket a la carbonnade, beef wellington, salt cod chowder, lentil dal, miso soup, turkey chili, potato leek soup, several mystery soups (which somehow escaped my labeling system), tapioca pudding, three kinds of cake, four kinds of cookies, etc... It's a little out of control. I also stock the freezers with various cooking ingredients: chicken stock, veal stock, leftover white wine, leftover red wine, chopped onions, chopped green peppers, tomato paste, chipotle chiles in adobo, various homemade spice blends, frozen berries, frozen vegetables, homemade sauces, etc. And throughout this year when I found meat I needed for the project, I bought it and threw that in the freezers too! So up until recently I also had a turkey, tripe, a goose, and 10 squabs in my freezers. Needless to say, the freezers were getting a bit packed.

To top it all off, the top tier of our wedding cake was also in the freezer! We had planned to eat it on our one-year anniversary, but when the anniversary rolled around we were in Japan. On our two-year anniversary we were in France. So the cake remained in the freezer. One evening this summer my special gentleman commented, "I could go for some wedding cake." So we unwrapped it after 25 months of marriage, and cut ourselves some cake! It was still tasty! Now only one piece remains in the freezer, and it will surely get eaten as soon as we get back from this trip. Eating the cake inspired me to clear out the freezers a bit. So I prepared the turkey. And the tripe. This recipe took care of the last of the squab, and soon after I made this one I made the goose as well. Now, although the freezers are far from empty, there is a bit of space in them. It has inspired me! When we get home I plan to eat through some of the old frozen food, clearing out some space for a freezer reorganization. I would like to tame the freezer chaos once and for all with some sort of system. My usual system, throw things in wherever once can find space, is not ideal. Once the freezers are organized, I am going to cook, cook, cook to fill up the freezers with yummy prepared food before the chaos of the school year starts!

My non-Book cooking style often involves making things in enormous batches. I make enough chili to serve 25, for instance, then freeze it in many small containers. It makes for a very easy weeknight dinner: throw something from the freezer into the microwave or the toaster oven, make a green salad, and serve both with some homemade bread. Yum! It also makes it easy when we have house guests. I just thaw a variety of things from the freezer before their arrival and then there are plenty of options for eating! My special gentleman and I have cut way, way back on processed foods in the last year or so. Cooking in bulk and freezing the results has definitely been key in this cut back.

Thinking about the food in freezer is making me hungry. It might be about time to hunt down a snack.


Karen said...

Hahaha...I have the same freezer chaos! I like to buy whole chickens and use them all up and make stock, but usually not all at once. So I freeze the carcasses and make the stock later. Well, I had gotten up to FOUR in the freezer space - yikes! So I finally made some stock last weekend with two of them. In the process of fishing them out, I came across some unmarked items, so I had the same idea as you - it's time to sort it all out and organize it so I can use it better...

Do you keep a written inventory on the fridge or something? Or are you just very good at remembering what you have in there? I've been using the remembering route, but it seems to be failing me a bit lately...lol...

Teena said...

I often have poultry carcasses in the freezer for stock too!

I don't keep a written inventory. I just try to remember what is in there. But it results in a lot of searching through the freezer when I am pretty sure there is veal stock somewhere but I can't find it. I need a better system.

Rosiecat said...

Oh my gosh, I am so inspired by your well-stocked freezers! Today I feel like I'm hitting rock bottom of the "rummage in kitchen for a meal" method of cooking. Thank goodness it's Saturday and I have some time to shop and cook.

Your blog is really awesome. I've enjoyed reading your cooking adventures, but more than that, I like how you share parts of your life with your readers.

Teena said...

Thanks Rosiecat! The freezer definitely helps in those moments when everything else in the kitchen runs low.

Dan Kraan said...

Hello Teena,

"This recipe isn't online."

If you're referring to the Salmi recipe, it definitely is online.


I know the prep looks fussy, and it quite probably is. However, I am going to make a loose version of this very thing tonight. Either way, thank you for your review and I'll keep the "thin" part in mind when preparing the sauce. Instead of doing it "by the book (Book?)", I'm taking those (drained) soft vegetables and blending them with a judicious use of the remaining stock to achieve the desired consistency (I hope).