It’s definitely summertime, the chanterelles are up, and fruit is starting to come in. Blackcap berries and raspberries have been making fun treats on my morning walks, as well as the occasional wild grape. There are plenty of fruity treats around, but a fun, and relatively obscure one is the gooseberry.
Gooseberries are cool for a couple reasons: they have an interesting shape, and they’re pretty large as far as berries go. I think my favorite part about them is the fact that their seeds are small enough to be pretty much unnoticeable when you eat them whole. Usually unless I make jam or something I would strain out seeds, but since the gooseberry doesn’t require that, I thought I’d make a fun summer recipe to show off two different ways they might be used: macerated lightly in a little salad, and cooked as I would other berries in a tart sauce perfect for garnishing game birds.
The bird here is really fun too, if you’ve never tried squab (aka pigeon) I would really encourage you to look around for some. If you’ve never had it, just imagine a really tiny, delicious duck breast. Cooked to a perfect medium rare with a crispy skin, they are really something special. Since they’re tiny too, they make a great appetizer, and could gild a larger, multi-course meal without filling you, or your guests up. Check your local Asian market for whole, frozen squab. You will pay much, much less than if special order from whole foods or another retailer. I get mine from Dragon Star in St. Paul.
The chanterelle wild rice in here is a favorite of mine too. When the season gets going, I find myself throwing chanterelles in everything. One year I was making a grain salad to bring to a potluck on my friends boat. I mixed together a little wild rice, vegetables, and chanterelles with oil, sweet herbs, and just a splash of vinegar. It was a big hit and my chef buddy Pat Amador (executive chef at the Stillwater Country Club) still mentions it when we talk about planning yearly boat season outings.
Squab With Gooseberries And Chanterelle Wild Rice
- 1 recipe gooseberry sauce follows
- 1 recipe chanterelle wild rice follows
- 1 recipe fresh gooseberry salad follows
- 8 squab breasts plucked and skin on (duck, pheasant, another game bird or chicken could be substituted)
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Grapeseed oil or animal lard like duck fat for sauteing
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil or lard in a large saute pan (10 in size would be fine) until lightly smoking. Season the squab breasts with salt and pepper and place skin side down in the pan. Cook the squab on medium high heat until the skin is browned, crisp and caramelized, about 3-4 minutes.
- Flip each squab breast over quickly to just cook their tenderloins through, then remove from the pan and allow to rest for a few minutes while you plate the dish.
- Plating and serving
- Spoon 1/2 cup of the wild rice on each of four pre-heated dinner plates. Top each pile of wild rice with 2 rested squab breasts, making sure to arrange them skin side up to avoid steam softening the crisp skin. Next place a heaping tablespoon of the fresh gooseberry salad on each plate.
- Finish the plate by drizzling the gooseberry sauce around the rice, then serve immediately.
- 4 squab carcasses
- 1 cup fresh gooseberries washed and cleaned
- 1 carrot
- 1 rib of celery
- 1 sweet yellow onion
- A bouquet garni consisting of 10 black peppercorns 1 bay leaf, and a sprig of thyme (optional)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 gallon of water
- 1 tbsp mild honey like clover or wildflower (do not use a strong flavored honey like buckwheat or chestnut)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter diced and chilled
- Roast the squab carcasses in the oven at 350 degrees until browned, about 40 minutes. Chop the carcasses into 4 equal sized pieces with a meat cleaver. Put the roasted carcasses and remaining ingredients except the gooseberries into a stock pot and bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat and cook for 3 hours, or until the liquid is reduced by half.
- Strain the carcasses from the stock, then add the gooseberries and reduce the remaining liquid in a wide pan until 1 cup remains (10 inch size would be perfect-the wider the pan the less time needed for the reduction to concentrate the collagen in the sauce and thicken it.)
- Remove the pan from the heat, strain through the a chinois and whisk in the butter until the sauce is thickened slightly, then season to taste for salt and sweetness/honey, and reserve until needed (you will want to put the sauce in a sauce boat or something similar before serving to prevent further evaporation/reduction).
Fresh Gooseberry Salad
A simple salad of macerated berries, great for garnishing poultry, pork, or fish.
Yield: about 3/4 cup-enough to garnish 4 entree plates
- 1 cup fresh gooseberries, washed, cleaned, and halved vertically
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tsp mild honey, such as clover or wildflower (do not use a strong flavored honey like buckwheat or chestnut)
- 1 small shallot, trimmed, peeled, halved, and cut perpendicular from the root into a thin julienne
- 1 tsp salad oil such as virgin sunflower or extra virgin olive
- In a bowl, combine the sliced shallot with the honey, then season to taste with salt and pepper (about 1/4 tsp and 1/16 tsp respectively). Allow the shallot to macerate in this mixture for 5 minutes. Add the halved gooseberries, mix to combine, and reserve the salad until needed.
Chanterelle Wild Rice
If you want to present this with meat like the squab above, I would serve it warm. However, the first time I served it It was room temperature, as per a grain salad.
Served cool or room temp you may want to increase the amount of vinegar, tarragon, and salt slightly since flavors are muted when cool.
If serving the salad as a compliment to protein garnished with a sweet or tart sauce like the above squab recipe, omit the vinegar since there is plenty of tartness in the gooseberry sauce already to balance the dish.
Yield: 4 cups, more than enough to serve as the starch component of a dinner entree for 4 people.
- 1.5 cups wild rice, preferably whole, and “lake parched” if possible (“lake parched” is the traditional and finest quality wild rice available)
- 1/4 cup carrot, onion, and celery, diced 1/4 in
- 8oz fresh chanterelle mushrooms, brushed and inspected for dirt if clean, lightly rinsed or quickly washed and laid to dry on towels if dirty
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 tbsp +1tbsp flavorless oil for sauteing, such as grapeseed or canola
- Virgin olive or sunflower oil, to taste
- Tbsp fresh chopped tarragon
- Champagne vinegar, to taste
- Put the wild rice in a sauce pot and cover with 3 cups of water. Lightly salt the water. Bring the rice to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the rice is tender enough to eat in a salad. (If you are using commercially available wild rice, it will take longer to cook.) Drain the cooked wild rice and lay out on a cookie sheet to cool.
- In a large saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil until lightly smoking. Add the chanterelles and cook for 5 minutes, or until any moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms are lightly browned. Season the mushrooms with salt, then remove from the pan. Add the vegetables and the additional tbsp of oil if the pan has become dry, to prevent the vegetables from burning. Cook the vegetables for 10 minutes on medium heat until soft and tender, then add the chanterelles, vinegar, tarragon, and wild rice to the pan, toss to combine, check the seasoning for salt and pepper, and reserve until needed.