Roast Squabs with Beets and Rutabaga-Parsnip Puree
- Kosher salt to coat pan about 1/5-inch deep, plus more to taste
- 15 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 5 cloves garlic, whole, unpeeled
- 2 bunches red or yellow baby beets
- 2 pounds rutabaga, peeled and cubed
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cubed
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled
- 4 cups milk
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking
- 4 teaspoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
- 4 teaspoons chopped thyme
- Four 1 1/3-pound squabs
- Pepper to taste
1. Preheat a smoker burning charcoal or a regular oven to 300° F. Scrub the beets.
2. In a casserole dish, mix together the salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme and 4 cloves garlic. Spread mixture evenly in the dish. Top with the beets and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
3. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If using a smoker, remove foil for the last 30 minutes. Check doneness by piercing the largest beet with a paring knife; it should slide through easily. Peel beets while still hot, covering your hands with paper towels. Trim and halve beets, and keep warm.
4. Preheat oven to 475° F. Place rutabaga, parsnip, onion, remaining 1 clove garlic, milk and butter in a large pot. Simmer until vegetables are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
5. Transfer rutabaga, parsnip, onion and garlic to a blender or food processor, and puree. Slowly add cooking liquid in batches, holding the top down with a kitchen towel, until mixture has reached the desired consistency. Add salt to taste, and set aside in a warm place.
6. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, parsley and thyme. Season squabs with salt and pepper, and brush with the oil mixture.
7. Lightly coat a large, preferably oven-safe saucepan with olive oil, and heat on medium-high. Add squabs, taking care not to crowd the pan, and turn occasionally to brown all sides. Transfer to oven, breast-side up (on a baking sheet if pan isn't oven-safe), and roast for 7 minutes or until breast is medium-rare.
8. Spread some puree on each plate. Place a squab on one side and a few beets on the other. Garnish squabs with chopped parsley. Serves 4.