"This is Stefano's recipe for a soup that's more a casserole of bread soaked in delicious pigeon broth," says Hafner.
- 6 squab pigeons (about 500gm each)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 each carrot and celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 rosemary sprig and a few sage leaves
- 250 ml red wine
- 2.5 litres butcher-quality chicken stock
- 10 thick slices day-old rustic sourdough, halved
- 170 gm finely grated parmesan
- For drizzling: extra-virgin olive oil
- 1Wash and pat dry the pigeons. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a casserole over low-medium heat and sauté onion until soft and translucent (10-15 minutes). Add carrot, celery, garlic and herbs, season with salt and stir until tender and golden (10-15 minutes). Set vegetables aside, add remaining oil and cook pigeons until golden (3-5 minutes). Add wine and simmer until liquid is reduced by half (4-8 minutes). Add stock, return vegetables to pan, cover and simmer over low heat until meat starts to fall off the bone (1-1½ hours). Transfer pigeons and half the vegetables to a plate and keep separate. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones. Add bones back to the pan and cook over medium-high until stock has reduced by half (35-45 minutes).
- 2Strain stock through a sieve and press the vegetables with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible (discard remaining vegetables). Refrigerate until required. Skim fat from surface before using.
- 3Preheat oven to 140C. Line a deep casserole dish with a layer of bread, then top with half the pigeon meat and soffritto. Sprinkle generously with a third of the parmesan, then repeat, finishing with parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Pour 1.3 litres stock over, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, checking often and adding more stock if dry. Remove foil and bake until golden brown (30-40 minutes). Serve hot with a good drizzle of your best green extra-virgin olive oil.
Drink Suggestion: A rich old oloroso Sherry or perhaps even aged brandy. Drink suggestion by James Broadway