This recipe uses the entirety of the fennel bulb – heart, trimmings (outer bulb and stems) and fronds, with each part in a different component of the dish.
Grind together all the morel spice rub ingredients (how to grind spices
Trim the wingtips off the squab (you can freeze them and add them to stock later). Cut each in half vertically. Season both sides with the morel rub. Cover the squab and put them in your refrigerator until you’re ready to cook them (up to 3 hours).
Rehydrate the dried morels for the sauce (how to rehydrate dried mushrooms
). Reserve the strained rehydrating liquid.
Slice the morels into thin rings.
In a large pan combine the shallot, honey, rehydrating liquid & stock (rehydrating liquid plus enough stock to make 2 cups total), the wine and the fennel bulb trimmings.
Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the liquid has reduced in volume to about ¾ of a cup (not counting the solids).
Strain the solids out of the sauce, pressing on them to extract as much as possible of the liquid that’s soaked in.
Get a saute pan (coated with the olive oil) hot over medium heat. Add the morels and the salt. Cook the morels, without stirring, until they’ve caramelized around the edges (about 5-7 minutes). Deglaze the pan with water, scraping up any browned bits that stick to the bottom. Pour the contents of the pan into the reduced sauce.
Make the Braised Cabbage:
Get a saute pan (coated with the olive oil) hot over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage, sliced fennel bulb, salt, honey, rosemary leaves and vinegar.
Cook over medium low heat, covered, for about 30 minutes. Check on the contents & stir them periodically, adding additional liquid if it looks dry.
When the cabbage is tender, taste it and add additional salt as necessary. Keep it warm until the rest of the dish is finished.
Split the duck/bacon fat between two heavy pans and melt it over medium-high heat. Add the squab pieces, skin-side down, taking care not to crowd the pans.
When the skin-side starts to brown & crisp (5-6 minutes later), flip the pieces and cook them for another minute or so – until the breast meat is rare to medium rare (125 to 135°F, depending on your doneness preference).
Remove the squab from the pan to a clean plate and loosely cover them with foil.
Put the morel sauce in a saucepan and get it hot over medium-low heat. Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until all the butter is emulsified. Keep the sauce warm over low heat until you’re ready to serve.
Pour any juices from the squab resting plate into the sauce, taste & add salt if needed.
Serve the squab with the braised cabbage and the morel sauce, garnished with some fennel fronds and flake sea salt.