Roast Squab Breast with Onion Risotto and Balsamic Jus


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Season to Taste

By Liam Tomlin

Published 2005

  • About


  • 4 Squab
  • 2 Cocktail onions
  • 5 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 40ml Olive oil
  • 50g Whole unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 50g Onion, finely chopped
  • 250g Arborio rice
  • 40g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 20g Spring onion, sliced
  • 20g Chives, sliced
  • 120ml Balsamic jus
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying the onion ring
  • 10g Flour, sieved
  • 8 Chive tips
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


At least 24 hours in advance confit the squab legs. Use a sharp boning knife to remove the legs, wings and wishbones from the squab leaving the breasts on the carcass. Salt the squab legs and confit. Save the wings and wishbones for making a stock or sauce.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Peel the cocktail onions and thinly slice into rounds. Separate the rounds into rings and place in a bowl until ready to use.

Season the cavities of the squab with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Stuff each with a crushed garlic clove and a sprig of thyme and lightly season the skin of the squab with salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a heavy-based pan heat 20 ml olive oil over a medium heat. Add the birds skin side down and seal for 3 - 4 minutes until the skin is evenly brown. Stand the squab upright in the pan to ensure even cooking of the breasts and transfer to the oven to cook for a further 3 minutes or until medium rare. Remove the pan from the oven, add 20g whole diced butter and as it melts baste the breasts with it. Remove the squab from the pan and place onto a wire rack, laying them breast side down. Spoon the pan juices into the cavity. Rest the squab for 20 minutes before boning the breast from the carcass. Save the squab carcasses as they can be chopped up and roasted further to make a sauce.

While the squab are resting, return the pan to the heat and add the squab legs confit skin side down and cook for 2 minutes until the skin is brown and crisp. Turn the legs, transfer to the oven and warm through for a further 2 minutes. Remove the legs from the pan and rest with the breasts while preparing the remainder of the dish.

Bring the chicken stock to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add a crushed garlic clove and the onion and sweat without colour for 2 minutes. Add the rice and seal without colour for a further 2 minutes. Add a ladle of chicken stock and cook, stirring continuously to prevent it from sticking and until the stock is absorbed. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to add the stock, a ladle at a time, and cook the risotto until the rice is al dente which will take about 18 - 20 minutes.

To finish the risotto add the remaining whole diced butter and stir into the rice until fully incorporated. Add the parmesan cheese and fold through the risotto. Remove and discard the garlic clove. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from the heat and fold through the sliced spring onion and chives.

Heat the balsamic jus in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat. Heat the vegetable oil for deep-frying the onion rings to 180°C. Pass the onion rings through the flour, shake off any excess and drop them into the oil and cook until crisp and golden brown. Drain on a clean kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil. Lightly season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Carve the breasts from the squab and place together with the legs in the oven to warm through. Place a 10cm pastry ring in the centre of a warm plate. Spoon the risotto into it and smooth over with the back of the spoon. Gently remove the pastry ring. Place the squab breasts onto the risotto and two squab legs on top of the breasts and spoon the balsamic jus over and around the squab. Arrange a small stack