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For Christmas this year: Consider the pigeon

It's time to challenge the monopoly turkey has on festive fowls.

Festive fowl

Turkey might have a monopoly on Christmas, but its white, sometimes dry meat is often uninspiring. This season, surprise guests with something a little more exotic, like pigeon. Also known as squab (which are pigeons farmed for food), this diminutive option features a finer texture and far more flavour. While the fact that each diner gets a whole bird is already impressive – there’s an added bonus: The rich, dark meat of squab gives you the perfect opportunity to break out the special-occasion reds.

christmas pigeon

(Related: How to put together a show-stopping festive dinner: drinks and appetisers)

 

Preparing the squab

Tips courtesy of Timothy de Souza, executive chef of Como Cuisine

Most squabs you find in Singapore will be frozen. Thaw the bird overnight in the fridge. Don’t do it under running water because the squab comes packed with its giblets, kidney, and liver – and doing so will leach the blood from the organs into the meat.

• Remove all the organs, and remove any stray feathers with a tweezer.

• Blanch in chicken stock, and let it sit in the stock. Tighten up the skin, and intensify the flavorus of the bird.

• Roast it in 180 deg C, for about 10 mins, to an internal temperature of 55 deg C. Remove to rest. The internal temperature of the bird should go up to about 60 deg C while it’s resting.

 

Sauces

Make this with the roasting and resting juices of the squab. Something sweet or bitter to stand up to the dark meat. We’ve gone with sauternes, star anise and grapes but anything with coffee or chocolate will do too. How to serve Carve the legs and breast, and plate with a sauce and sides of your choice; or serve each bird whole and let your guests work a little for their food. Present the birds with sharing portions of your favourite side dishes.

 

Wine pairing suggestions

Chateau Corbin 2008 Saint Emilion Grand Cru: Merlot-dominant with some age that has brought elegance and balance to the wine. Medium-body with truffle, tobacco and red fruit.

Chateau Latour Martillac 2014 Pessac Leognan: Showing a little earthiness for something so young. Rich blackcurrants, cedar and complexity.

(Related: Are the Nordics the next great wine region?)