Coquelets sur Canapés [Roast Squab Chickens with Chicken Liver Canapés and Mushrooms]
Also for: squab pigeons, game hens, partridge, quail, dove
This is one of the classic French recipes for serving small roast birds. The livers are chopped, seasoned, and spread over sautéed bread rectangles; just before serving, these are run under the broiler. Then the roast birds are placed on them, and the dish is garnished with a wine-flavored deglazing sauce and sautéed mushrooms.
Trim and wash the mushrooms. Leave whole if small, quarter if large. Dry in a towel. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes in hot butter and oil until they are very lightly browned.
Stir in the shallots or onions, and garlic, and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Set aside.
Cut 6 slices of bread ¼ inch thick. Remove crusts, and cut slices into rectangles 2 by 3½ inches.
Sauté the bread lightly on each side in hot clarified butter.
Trim the livers, cutting off any black or green spots. Chop very fine, almost into a purée, with the pork fat or bacon. Then blend the liver in a bowl with the seasonings, wine, and optional foie gras. Spread the mixture on one side of each rectangle of sautéed bread. Arrange on a broiling pan and set aside. (Preheat broiler in time to cook the canapés just before serving.)
Roasting the birds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Season the cavities of the birds with a sprinkling of salt, shallots or onion, and tarragon, and 1 teaspoon of butter. Truss the birds, dry them, and rub with butter. Cut the blanched bacon in half, crosswise, and tie 2 strips over the breast and thighs of each bird.
Place the birds in the roasting pan, and set on a rack in the middle of the preheated oven. Baste and turn the birds every 5 to 7 minutes until they are done
CHICKENS will take from 30 to 40 minutes; they are done when the last drops of juice from their vents run clear yellow with no trace of rose.
GAME HENS, as their flesh is usually firmer than chicken, take about 45 minutes; they are done when the flesh of their drumsticks is soft.
PARTRIDGE and QUAIL, if young and tender, may be judged like chicken; if older, like game hens.
PIGEON and DOVE may be served slightly underdone if you wish, when their juices run a very pale rose rather than a clear yellow.
When done, remove trussing strings, sprinkle the birds with salt, and place them on a warm platter. Set in turned-off oven, its door ajar.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan. Stir in the shallots or onions and cook slowly for 1 minute. Add the stock or bouillon and wine and boil rapidly, scraping up coagulated cooking juices until liquid has reduced to about ½ cup. Correct seasoning. Off heat and just before serving, swirl the butter into the sauce.
Just before serving, run the liver canapés under a hot broiler for a minute, until they are sizzling.
Toss the mushrooms over moderately high heat with the butter, salt, and pepper.
Place a canapé under each bird. Surround with the mushrooms, and decorate with water cress or parsley. Spoon the sauce over the birds, and serve.
VEGETABLE SUGGESTIONS: Only sautéed, shoestring, or souffléed potatoes, or homemade potato chips are suggested.
WINE SUGGESTIONS: Serve a red Bordeaux-Médoc for chicken, game hens, or pigeon; red Bordeaux-St. Émilion or red Burgundy for game.
A Note on the Order of Battle: Although the mushrooms and canapés may be prepared while the birds are roasting, it seems best to do them ahead and relieve pressure, for the roast birds should be served almost as soon as they are done.