Squab Mousse with Field Salad

Although this is a deceptively easy recipe, great care must be taken each of the two times that the squabs are chopped up. The birds should not be pureed to baby-food consistency. The debris of bones (after the mixture is sieved) can be simmered with stock for a couple of hours to produce a beautiful sauce for some other dish, or, if clarified, a jelly to accompany this mousse. Serve the mousse with grilled brioche or toasts.

Ingredients

  • 4 squabs, preferably with heads, feet, livers, gizzards
  • cup fresh duck or chicken fat
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • ¼ cup Cognac or Madeira
  • 1 cup rich duck, veal, or chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup rendered duck fat
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup hazelnut or walnut oil
  • 3 cups mixed greens: rocket (arugula), dandelion, lamb’s lettuce, curly endive, watercress, baby lettuces
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted

Method

Coarsely chop the squabs, livers, gizzards, and fresh fat. Put it in a bowl. Mix in the thyme and Cognac and marinate for 5 hours. Put the mixture in a food processor or pass through a meat grinder to the consistency of hamburger.

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Put the mixture in an ovenproof pot with the stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly. Puree in batches in the food processor for 10 seconds. Put the puree through a food mill or sieve.

Let the puree cool to room temperature (if room is less than 75°F). Add salt and pepper and half the rendered duck fat and mix well. Check the seasoning. Spoon into little ramekins or a terrine. Melt the remaining rendered duck fat and pour inch fat over the mousse. Refrigerate preferably 2 days so that the flavors develop.

Dissolve salt and pepper in the lemon juice and whisk in the oil. Put the greens in a bowl, add the hazelnuts, pour over the dressing, and mix together. Put a ramekin or a slice from the terrine on each plate and surround with the salad.