Confit dodine of squab with a salad of walnuts, salsify and muscatels

Confit dodine of squab with a salad of walnuts, salsify and muscatels

Steve Brown

A dodine is a wonderful ‘special occasion’ dish, which is a little tricky to prepare but quite spectacular. Poultry or game birds (often duck) are boned and stuffed with a mixture of the breast meat, confit leg meat and offal. The birds are then sewn back to their original shape in order to confit, then caramelised.

You will need good knife skills to bone the birds. But it’s well worth taking the time to learn the techniques as, once learned, they can be used time and time again for all manner of poultry and game dishes.


Quantity Ingredient


Quantity Ingredient
2 teaspoons non-scented cooking oil
6 Calves’ and lamb sweetbreads, (small calves' sweetbreads only)
freshly ground pepper
30g unsalted butter
lemon juice
3-4 fresh or reconstituted dried trompette mushrooms, finely shredded
200g Chicken mousse
8 Confit duck gizzards, cut into a large dice
60g pistachio nuts, blanched and peeled
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Confit squab dodine

Quantity Ingredient
2 x 500g squab, heads and claws attached
1.5 litres * rendered duck fat [rid:1627]
garlic, roughly crushed
1 bay leaf
freshly ground pepper
30ml non-scented cooking oil
100g unsalted butter

Salad of walnuts, salsify and muscatels

Quantity Ingredient
200ml Squab or guinea fowl jus gras, made with squab
200g Glazed salsify
100g roasted walnuts
100g dried muscatels, seeded
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley


  1. To prepare the stuffing:

    Heat a frying pan over a high heat then add the oil. Season the sweetbreads lightly with salt and pepper and add them to the pan. Add the butter and heat to a nut-brown foam. Fry the sweetbreads, turning them in the foam until they are golden and caramelised. Add the lemon juice and stir briefly then remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper until cool.
  2. Add the mushrooms to the same pan, add a little more butter and sauté the mushrooms. Season well with salt and pepper then drain and leave to cool.
  3. Put the chicken mousse in a small bowl and gently fold in all the remaining ingredients, including the sweetbreads and mushrooms. The stuffing will be quite lumpy, but this adds to the visual appeal when the squabs are carved.
  4. To test the flavour balance of the stuffing, wrap a teaspoonful in cling film, secure tightly and poach for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings if required.
  5. To prepare the squab:

    Place breast side down on a secure chopping board and, using your sharpest boning knife, make a neat incision lengthwise down the undercarriage of the bird. Carefully bone down the left side, disconnecting the wing and leg from the ball and socket joints where they are attached to the main carcass. Keep your knife flush against the carcass in order to remove all the meat. Continue working your knife under and along the breast until you reach the centre of the breastbone. Repeat this procedure down the right side of the bird until you meet the centre breastbone. Then remove carcass – it should come away as one whole piece leaving the bird behind. Chop the carcass into small pieces and reserve for the jus gras.
  6. Remove the wing tips and clean the wing bones that are still attached to the bird. Bone out and remove the thigh bones from the birds. The wing tips and the thigh bones can be used to make the jus gras.
  7. Repeat the boning-out process with the other squab then lay the 2 birds out on the board, breast side down, and open them up as wide as you can. Remove the throat sacks from the necks and scrape away any excess fat.
  8. Divide the stuffing mixture in two and place in the cavities. Try to make sure the sweetbreads and mushrooms are evenly distributed down the centres of the birds. Bring the sides up around the stuffing to reform the birds and sew neatly along the join with string. Spear through the legs with toothpicks to secure them.
  9. To confit the squab:

    Preheat your oven to 120°C. Pour the duck fat into a deep ovenproof dish that is just large enough to fit the 2 squab and add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf to the pan. Heat gently then add the squab to the dish – they should be completely submerged. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper, cut to the size of the dish, and cook for 15 minutes.
  10. Lift the squab out of the fat, drain briefly and season with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat then add the oil. Add the squab to the pan, followed by the butter and heat to a nut-brown foam. Turn the squab around in the pan until deep golden-brown and caramelised. Remove from the heat and leave to rest in a warm place for a few minutes.
  11. To prepare the salad:

    Heat the jus gras in a large frying pan. Add the salsify, walnuts and muscatels and stir until warmed through. Add the parsley and mix thoroughly.
  12. To serve:

    Remove the string from each bird and carve in half lengthwise. Arrange on warm serving plates and spoon around the warm salad and plenty of jus gras.
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