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Rosemary Noodles with Pigeon Essences

I had so much fun cooking this! The recipe comes from Chez Panisse Cooking, and it’s one of those recipes you look at and you just know it’ll be an adventure to create. I mean, pigeon essences! What could be better?

Dave practically cried at the thought of pounding those beautiful pigeons through the food mill. It was tragic. But me, well, I got to say something I never in my life expected to be able to say: Apparently I like pigeon liver, in the appropriate context.

Intrigued yet?

We bought the pigeons from our current favorite Chinatown butcher, where they were completely uneviscerated and, of course, labeled squab. Fowl is supposed to be eviscerated before it can be sold here, but these squab were clearly labeled as coming under the Confucian Exemption.

I’d never eviscerated a bird before. Fish, sure. But birdies were a new adventure. Dave read me instructions off the internet, always a step behind what I had already done with gloved hands and a sharp little knife. I was very proud of myself for leaping ahead blindly into something new and making it work, always the skill I’m most proud of in myself, in every arena.

So, I butchered my pigeons and Dave roasted them for me. He made the pasta dough and I rolled it out and cut it. He minced the giblets and hearts and cooked the livers, and I pounded the pigeons through the food mill. We make a good team, me and him, splitting up the tasks to create fun, tasty monstrosities just because I saw the phrase “pigeon essences” and decided it had to be done.

So, here it is, just about straight from the original recipe. Next time I’d get some extra pigeon and shred roasted meat into the dish, too, for extra texture and to make Dave happy. If there is a next time. We’ve made the rosemary noodles since, but no matter how tasty, food milling the pigeons was just too traumatic for us to repeat.

2008: Saffron Duck Pot Pie
2007: Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Rosemary Noodles with Pigeon Essences
(from Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli and Alice Waters)
rosemary noodles (recipe below)
4 pigeons, with hearts, livers, and giblets
1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 oz pancetta, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
4 C chicken stock
4 C beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tbsp butter

Make the rosemary noodles as per the recipe below, but do not cook them yet, just set them aside in the fridge while you do the rest of the steps here.

Grill the pigeons (organs removed and set aside, heads and feet removed and discarded) over a hardwood charcoal fire, uncovered, turning frequently, until the skin is nice and brown and the bird is fully cooked. This should take about half an hour. If you don’t have a grill, you can cook them under the broiler instead, but they’ll suffer from the lack of smokiness.

Remove the birds from the grill to a bowl, careful to catch the juices from the cavity, then transfer them to a large cutting board. With a cleaver, chop them into very small pieces, making sure to crack all the bones. Transfer all the pieces to a large saucepan and add the chicken and beef stock. Bring to a quick summer, making sure not to boil, and simmer for 1 hour.

In the meantime, saute the hearts and giblets in the olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring often, until they are browned all over. Add the pancetta and garlic. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring often. The aim is to not brown the pancetta and garlic.

Remove the heart mixture from the pan and transfer it to a clean cutting board.

While the pan is still hot, add the livers and cook gently over low heat, turning them as soon as the edges begin to lighten in color and touching them frequently to test for doneness. When they are just firm in the center, remove from the pan and set aside.

Finely chop the heart mixture and set aside separately.

Now, back to the stock you’ve had simmering for the past hour. Sieve it through a chinoise or food mill, pounding or milling as much pigeon meat and marrow as possible through with the stock.

Set up a pot of salted water to boil for the noodles.

Return the pigeon broth to the stove and reduce it to 2 C. Add the chopped heart mixture, the butter, and a big dash of freshly ground black pepper. Check for salt and adjust to taste. Simmer until the butter is melted and stir well. Coarsely chop the reserved livers.

Cook the noodles for just a few minutes, until they float. Add to the sauce with the chopped liver. Stir well and serve immediately.

Rosemary Noodles
1 C all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary

Make the pasta dough by creating a mound of the flour with the other ingredients in the center. Slowly stir them in with a fork, then knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes, until smooth. Add in a bit of water if necessary to help it form a smooth dough, but don’t go overboard, try to be a bit patient.

Form it into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Set it aside and let it rest for 45 minutes.

Take 1/3 of the dough at a time, leaving the rest covered until you’re ready to deal with it.

If you have a pasta maker, run the dough through the pasta maker at its widest setting. Fold in half (parallel to the line of the pasta maker). Run it through again. Fold again, run it through again. Fold in half (perpendicular to the line of the pasta maker, to make it narrower), and run it through again. Reduce the width by one setting. Run the dough through. Reduce the width again. Run the dough through again. Keep going as long you can, which will probably be the second-narrowest setting (6, on our machine). Then cut the sheets of pasta into lengths one foot long, and run them through the fettucine cutting attachment.

Separate the strands of pasta and set them aside in the fridge on a floured plate, covered, until needed. They can last all day in there waiting for you, but probably not overnight.

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10 Responses to “Rosemary Noodles with Pigeon Essences”

  1. Vicki says:

    Some sick twisted part of me really wanted to see pictures
    of the pigeon-pounding process :)

  2. Foodista says:

    Interesting recipe. Ive never tried cooking using pigeons before.

    I’d like to invite you to take some time to drop by at Foodista and share your delicious recipe with us. We have launched an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia. Add a recipe and you can win a $100 gift card to Sur la table. Don’t forget to register first so we know who to thank the recipe for. Thanks!

  3. where have you been all my life. any blog willing to cook pigeon in one i need to visit over and over and over again. sometimes i can’t believe how americans fear anything besides chicken, beef or ppork. our rabbit posts get the most crazy comments b/c people think we’re nuts for eating it. i don’t get it. this looks absolutely beautiful- kudos!

  4. i just realized why i love this blog – b/c i’ve been here before and loved it. i’m an idiot for not remembering that. apologies. i only get to peruse blogs a few times a month. and i think i never emailed back either – we totally should get together at some point soon… your blog really is beautiful. i should’ve emailed this to you…oh well! have a wonderful weekend. (amy at weareneverfull.com)

  5. Elizabeth says:

    This sounds amazing! I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen pigeons (aside from the scavenging vermin that hang around our rooftops). And the chickens we buy now NEVER have hearts and gizzards attached. Squab is available too but I’m pretty sure it’s always gutted. Do you think the innards made a huge difference to the flavour of the finished dish?

    One more question, weren’t there bone shards?

  6. rebekka says:

    Woah. I don’t know you, but I am extremely impressed with you for making that. Amazing!

  7. sarah says:

    enjoying your posts. I never made pigeon/squab
    but I know Moroccans have a few recipes using it, the
    most famous being bastila. I have yet to make it.

  8. Twenga says:

    This looks delicious thanks for the recipe!

  9. Alexa says:

    I tried this recipe and it was great! Thanks for sharing it!

  10. BillHoo says:

    When you say, you had to run the pigeons through the food mill… Is that bones and all?

    I can imagine the younger squab may not have hard bone development, but would simmering for an hour make the bones soft?

    Or do we just run the meat and skin through?

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