Squab pot au feu with foie gras and thyme dumplings, stuffed neck and confit wings

Squab pot au feu with foie gras and thyme dumplings, stuffed neck and confit wings

Steve Brown

This recipe is inspired by pot au feu – a French classic with many regional variations. In the traditional version, the base is an aromatic flavoursome broth in which all the meat and garnish are braised with herbs. Our version is a little different as the component parts are prepared separately, and then served in a light consommé. It makes for a rather more complex and layered dish full of wonderful flavours and textures.

For this recipe you need whole squabs with the necks and heads intact. You will also need to buy a few extra squab wings, or use any left over from another dish.

The consommé, dumplings and aromatic salt will need to be made ahead of time so remember this in your planning.


Quantity Ingredient
2 x 500g squab
8 extra squab wings
100g Aromatic confit salt

Confit wings and legs

Quantity Ingredient
1 liter Rendered duck fat
3 garlic cloves
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 bay leaf

Stuffed necks

Quantity Ingredient
100g shiitake mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 garlic clove
2 sprigs thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

Squab crowns

Quantity Ingredient
2 squab crowns
salt and freshly ground pepper
few tablespoons Rendered duck fat
12 Game consommé
12 Foie gras and thyme dumplings
12 baby leeks, blanched in simmering salted water until tender then refreshed in iced water


  1. To prepare the squab:

    Remove the legs, wings, undercarriages, necks and heads from the squab leaving the breasts attached to the remaining carcass: this is what’s known as the crown. Remove the wishbones and throat sacks.
  2. Set aside all the wings and the legs with the 2 squab necks. Trim the wing tips from the wings and remove the thick bones. Pull the skin back to reveal the second, fine bone with a nugget of meat attached. Remove the bones from the necks and turn them inside out. Sprinkle some of the salt onto a flat tray and arrange the wings, legs and necks on top. Cover with the rest of the salt and leave to marinate for an hour.
  3. To confit the wings and legs:

    Preheat your oven to 110°C. Rinse away the salt from the wings and legs and pat them dry. Heat the duck fat in a casserole dish with the garlic and herbs. Add the wings and legs so they are completely submerged. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper cut to the size of the dish. Place in the oven and cook for 2 hours, until the meat is tender and easily comes away from the bone. Remove the wings and legs from the pan (reserving the fat for later) and drain them in a colander until cool enough to handle. Set the wings to one side. Remove the meat from the legs and shred into small pieces.
  4. To stuff the necks:

    Rinse away the salt and pat them dry. Turn the necks back the correct way and tie them tightly at the narrow end.
  5. Heat a tablespoon of the rendered duck fat in a heavy-based frying pan and sauté the mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper then drain and leave to cool.
  6. Roughly chop the mushrooms and mix them with the shredded leg meat. Stuff the squab necks with this mixture, packing it in firmly so each neck is plump and round. Secure the open end firmly with string.
  7. Put the stuffed necks into the casserole dish with the flavoured duck fat and cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 110°C. Remove from the oven, drain briefly then set aside with the wings.
  8. To poach the squab crowns:

    Bring them to room temperature and season with salt and pepper. Heat the consommé in a heavy-based saucepan to 80°C.
  9. Heat a heavy-based frying pan until hot. Add a tablespoon of the rendered duck fat followed by the seasoned squabs. Fry for 3 minutes until the skin is golden brown and caramelised. Remove from the pan and pat dry on kitchen paper to thoroughly remove any fat.
  10. Put the squab in the consommé with the dumplings and poach gently for about 8 minutes. Remove the squab from the consommé, but leave the dumplings sitting in the consommé. Leave the squab to rest in a warm place for about 4 minutes.
  11. When ready to serve:

    Heat a heavy-based frying pan until hot. Add a little rendered duck fat and fry the squab wings and stuffed necks until golden brown and caramelised.
  12. Heat the blanched leeks in the consommé with the dumplings.
  13. Slice the 4 breasts off the carcasses, remove the skin and carve each breast off the bone into 3 pieces. Season well and divide between 4 warm serving bowls. Carve each of the necks into 6 slices and divide between the 4 bowls with the wings, dumplings and leeks. Ladle on the hot consommé and serve at once.
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