Squab and black rice with cuttlefish and lime

Squab and black rice with cuttlefish and lime

Stuart Scott

In Australia, the cuttlefish is mostly represented by its white calcified spine used in budgie cages. They wash up on the beach on a regular basis and have been collected to sharpen budgies’ beaks for generations. This was not the inspiration for this dish but it did make me think of it.



  1. Begin this recipe one day in advance. Lay 5 squabs on a workbench. Remove the wings and legs from each squab and remove the backbone, keeping the breasts on the crown. To make the brine, mix together 300 grams table salt, 150 grams brown sugar and 2.5 litres water until the salt and sugar dissolve. Soak the squab breasts in the brine and refrigerate for 1 hour. Trim the wings and legs and rub with coarse salt. Leave to cure for 2 hours.
  2. To make the gastrique, heat a saucepan over a moderate heat. Coat the base of the pan with 200 grams caster sugar. Let the sugar melt and caramelise until it becomes a rich golden colour, being careful that it doesn’t burn. Add 200 millilitres sherry vinegar and let it come to the boil, then simmer briefly until the caramel is combined. Keep at room temperature until required.
  3. Remove the squab breasts from the brine and rinse thoroughly under running water to remove the excess brine. Pat dry. Steam them, uncovered, in a combi steam oven at 54°C for 40 minutes. Place on a tray and leave, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 12 hours so that the skin will dry and firm up. Brush with the gastrique once every 2 hours. The breast should be evenly coated in the syrup.
  4. Melt 150 grams duck fat in a saucepan. Add 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 fresh bay leaf, 2 thyme sprigs, 15 toasted black peppercorns and 3 strips lime rind, avoiding the bitter pith. Lay the wings and legs on top of the aromatics. Cover with a cartouche, then slowly simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, or until the meat is very tender and almost falling off the bones. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.
  5. Cut 2 shallots into fine brunoise and finely mince 1 garlic clove. Bring 1 litre chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan. In a separate pan, gently sweat the shallot and garlic in 1 tablespoon clarified butter and, when translucent, gently stir in 1 cup venere rice. Once the rice becomes glossy, add 2 tablespoons dry vermouth. Let the alcohol cook off and gently keep stirring the rice. Start feeding the risotto one ladleful of boiling chicken stock at a time, while stirring the rice. Keep adding stock and cooking it down while stirring until the rice is soft and completely tender with no bite. Add 100 grams finely grated parmigiano reggiano and 1 tablespoon butter. Transfer the risotto to a high-speed blender and purée it into a fine cream, being careful not to overwork it as it can become quite gluey. Add more warm chicken stock if it becomes too thick, then season to taste with Murray River pink salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Combine 100 grams jasmine rice, 2 teaspoons squid ink, 300 millilitres water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave in a warm place until the rice has slowly absorbed all the liquid. Transfer the rice to a high-speed blender and blend into a smooth purée. Add more water if required to assist with this. Line dehydrator trays with plastic wrap. Spread the rice purée onto the trays and dry in a food dehydrator at 65°C for 8 to 10 hours, or until dried and crisp and you have rice ‘paper’.
  7. Heat 1 litre canola oil to at least 200°C in a deep saucepan. Break the rice paper into smaller pieces and fry – it should puff up instantly. Using a slotted spoon or sieve, remove the puffed rice and drain on paper towels. Cool to room temperature. Taste the rice and lightly season with Murray River pink salt if required. Store in an airtight container until required.
  8. Lay 5 small cuttlefish on a workbench and work with one at a time. Holding the head of one of the cuttlefish in one hand, take the other hand and slide in under the hood to remove the intestines and tentacles. Remove the quill. To remove the cuttlefish wings, slide your index finger underneath the wing and they should come off quite easily. The outer layer of skin is connected to the wings and it surrounds the whole tube so the skin should come off at the same time. Once all the skin, wings and the majority of the guts are cleaned out, cut the tube open and scrape the rest of the guts from the body. Briefly rinse in water and pat dry. Split each body into two nice portions and carefully score the tissue in a diamond pattern. Repeat with the remaining cuttlefish. Refrigerate until required.
  9. Clean 200 grams Brussels sprouts and, with a paring knife, separate the outer leaves and reserve them – they will be sautéed. Once the greener outer leaves are removed, split the cores into two pieces and reserve.
  10. Preheat the oven to 100°C. Heat 1 litre canola oil to 160°C in a deep saucepan. Remove the squabs from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Fry the birds individually until they become dark golden, then transfer to a baking tray and warm in the oven for 10 minutes. Carve the breasts from the bone; keep warm.
  11. In a warm saucepan melt 1 tablespoon clarified butter and lightly colour the Brussels sprouts hearts, season with a pinch of salt, cover and leave to steam over very low heat. Sweat the outer leaves in a pan with a small ladle of chicken stock and a knob of butter. Season to taste with Murray River pink salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  12. Reheat the rice purée and adjust the consistency with hot chicken stock if too sticky. Adjust the seasoning.
  13. Steam the cuttlefish in a combi steam oven at 55°C for a few minutes to warm through, then season with a sprinkle of Murray River pink salt, freshly ground black pepper and a splash of virgin olive oil.
  14. Pan-fry the confit legs and thighs in a hot pan in a little of the confit fat, until golden brown.
  15. Split 2 limes into six pieces each and remove any visible seeds. Char the limes by searing them in a hot frying pan or hotplate, without fat, until evenly blackened.
  16. To serve, smear the rice purée onto a plate and build your garnish around it. Cut the squab breast in half on the diagonal and lay two pieces on the rice. Slice the cuttlefish into thick strips and lay on each plate. Top with the Brussels sprouts leaves and puffed rice. Skewer the charred lime onto a small oyster fork and put it on the plate so that the diner can squeeze the juice at the table.

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