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A Thanksgiving feast for all palates, Pigeon style

No, there will be no pigeon on the Thanksgiving table this year at the Hungry Pigeon. But there will be a feast of thanks from the owners of this quirky all-day cafe, restaurant, and bar in Queen Village.

Co-owners Pat O'Malley (left) and Scott Schroeder updated flavors with the kind of fun, eclectic, and seasonal twists that define the Hungry Pigeon.
Co-owners Pat O'Malley (left) and Scott Schroeder updated flavors with the kind of fun, eclectic, and seasonal twists that define the Hungry Pigeon.Read moreCLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer

No, there will be no pigeon on the Thanksgiving table this year at the Hungry Pigeon.

But there will be a feast of thanks from the owners of this quirky all-day cafe, restaurant, and bar in Queen Village, whose emergence as a destination for handcrafted comfort-food updates has made it one of the year's best debuts.

And there will definitely be plenty to eat: a glorious turkey burnished to a deep mahogany in tangy cider glaze; stunningly rich Duchess potatoes whose heat-browned fluted peaks are ribboned with the extra earthy ooze of local Fat Cat cheese; a full complement of other trimmings, including a knockout vegan side; and one of the best (maybe the best?) pumpkin pies I ever ate.

"I'm thankful for the restaurant," says co-owner and co-chef Scott Schroeder, who launched his own project, finally, after 12 years as a hired chef at the South Philadelphia Tap Room and American Sardine Bar. "It's been a dream for a really long time and it feels good to be here. I've grown a lot as a person. And me and Pat, we're such a happy couple. I know I'm thankful for that."

The "Pat" in question is Pat O'Malley, his business partner, co-chef, and baker extraordinaire, the man responsible for that sublime pie and all the restaurant's crusty breads, sticky buns, and flaky croissants. Before returning to Philly, where he had met Schroeder on the line at ¡Pasion!, O'Malley's holidays were spent overseeing pastry production at New York's renowned Balthazar.

Unlike many restaurant chefs, who typically get off for Thanksgiving, his work in that 24-hour production bakery hit overdrive around the holidays: "For eight years, it was like my Super Bowl. We'd do $25,000 in retail a day."

With the opportunity now to step back and breathe at the more reasonable pace of their cozy neighborhood restaurant, O'Malley can lavish his baking with subtle details. His piecrust alone has 12 steps and unusual touches, like lemon juice (for brightness) and a flourish of gilding the par-baked crust with sugar and milk. But, whoa . . . it is worth it. Canned pumpkin? Not when it's so easy to roast a medley of heirloom squash and turn it into silky orange custard. Even the whipped cream gets a flourish of pureed toasted pumpkin seeds.

Of course, you can simply leave it to the professionals and buy one this week at the restaurant for $25 a pie. This whole menu will be served for reservation-only dinners daily through the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, featuring smaller turkeys for $100 a half bird (enough for two or three), or $200 for a whole (enough for four to six), including trimmings and dessert.

But conjuring this year's feast by the Hungry Pigeon duo was for these chefs an exercise in walking back to their personal histories, then updating favorite flavors with the kind of fun, eclectic, and seasonal twists that define the restaurant itself.

For Schroeder, a native of metro Detroit who often spent his holidays with Italian relatives in Tennessee, nailing a moist turkey is key, so he adds a twist to the now-standard brining technique, using both hard and sweet cider for a tangy fall touch. A mushroom kugel has universal appeal that benefits from a light touch of cottage cheese and fresh-cut egg noodles. And his impulse to cut the meal's decadent richness with something fresh resulted in a vegan side that's as delicious as it is savory, a tumble of roasted delicata squash rings and broccoli dressed with warm rye berries.

For O'Malley, housemade bread works its way into many forms - as toasty crumbs to give the sausage gravy a more rustic thickener than the usual Wondra flour, and in a rye bread stuffing turned "dirty" with ground liver and turkey giblets, plus a spark of cranberries, that's his take on an old family recipe. Cooked like a moist offal pudding, that stuffing is an edgy offering typical of the Hungry Pigeon that's likely to be the love-it-or-leave-it dish of the meal. But the Duchess potatoes will be a universal hit, so gorgeously cheesy they deserve a place on my table year-round.

But the Thanksgiving meal is special for these two, especially this year. So once the restaurant is closed Thursday and the overall-clad chefs gather around their table to lift glasses of hard cider in cheers, they will be toasting the loved ones who helped them get there.

"What am I thankful for? My wife, Ariel," says O'Malley. "She has been so incredibly patient and supportive over the last two years."

Likewise, Schroeder credits his fiancée, Maria Beddia, as the motivator to finally make the Hungry Pigeon a reality: "I think I opened the restaurant so she'd think I'm cool enough to marry."




For Craig LaBan's barbecued bird and other holiday recipes, go to

Hungry Pigeon's Dirty Cranberry Stuffing


Makes 8-10 servings


1-pound loaf caraway rye bread, old is fine.

4 tablespoons butter, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red onion, diced

3 ribs celery, diced

2 tablespoons kosher salt

11/2 teaspoons black pepper

1/4 teaspoon allspice, ground

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons fresh thyme chopped

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons orange zest

1 quart chicken stock (less if you don't want the intended puddinglike texture)

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 pint chicken livers

1 pound fresh (or frozen) cranberries.

Optional: Turkey gizzards and neck (pre-simmmered in chicken broth until well cooked), heart, turkey liver.


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut the rye bread into 1-inch cubes and lay them out on a sheet tray, then bake in 300-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until very dry and lightly toasted. Set aside.

2. In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil, then add the onion and cook. Once the onion is soft and has taken on some color, add the celery, salt, pepper, allspice, and bay leaf. Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the thyme, parsley, and orange zest and then add the stock and cream to deglaze the pan and get all that good stuff off the bottom, then shut off the heat.

4. Place the toasted bread in a large mixing bowl, then pour the cream mixture over it and allow it to sit.

5. Adjust a meat grinder with a plate with the largest holes (or a food processor for a coarse grind). Begin grinding the chicken livers, turkey liver, hearts, pre-cooked gizzards, if using, until it has all passed through. Then follow with the cranberries.

6. Add your cranberry and meat puree to the bowl with the bread, as well as the pecans and raisins and gently mix. The neck meat can be picked and tossed in with the rest of the stuffing.

7. Allow the mixture to soak for at least four hours, or overnight to ensure everything blends well.

8. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 9-inch casserole by smearing the inside with softened butter, then pour the stuffing mix in, and cover the top with foil.

9. Bake stuffing covered for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees then remove the foil, turn the oven up to 375 degrees, and bake an additional 15 minutes to crisp up the top.

– From Hungry Pigeon pastry chef and co-owner Pat O'Malley

Per serving (based on 10): 365 calories, 12 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams sugar, 19 grams fat, 203 milligrams cholesterol, 2,071 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.EndText

Hungry Pigeon's Pie Dough


Makes one 9-inch piecrust


11/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup pastry flour

11/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound, plus 2 tablespoons European-style butter (like Plugra), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and kept cold

1/4 cup cold water (may need an additional tablespoon if dough is too dry)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons milk

Coarse sugar


1. Combine all dry ingredients and cubed butter in a mixing bowl and begin to work together with your fingertips until it forms pea-size pieces.

2. Stream in the water and lemon juice and continue mixing until the mixture has come together and all of the flour is wet. If mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon of water, then turn mixture out onto a table and make sure everything is combined. The mixture will look somewhat crumbly but should hold together. Form into a 6-inch disc. Cover in plastic wrap and chill it for at least two hours before rolling out.

3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out a 12-inch circle, and place it in a 9-inch pie plate. Make sure the dough is resting on the bottom of the pan, and in the corners.

4. Fold the extra dough hanging over the edge of the pie pan underneath the edge to make that part of the crust thicker for crimping the edge.

5. For a classic crimped crust, gently push a fold of dough out toward the edge of the pie plate with the index finger of one hand, and pinch the fold between the thumb and index finger of your other hand. For bigger crimps, use your thumb to push out.

6. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork several times to prevent the bottom from puffing up during baking. Place pie shell in the refrigerator or freezer to chill well before blind baking.

To blind-bake your pie shells:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (350 for convection). 2. Remove shell from refrigerator or freezer, line with a lightly sprayed piece of aluminum foil (sprayed side down) that is big enough to line the entire cavity and that allows a little extra so you can grab and remove the foil after baking.

3. Fill the cavity with dried beans (It doesn't matter what kind, they won't be edible afterward. Save them for your future pie baking projects as "baking beans.")

4. Bake the pie shell for about 40 minutes, rotating halfway. (I know this seems like a long time, but the pie shell should be pretty thoroughly cooked.)

5. After 40 minutes, take a peek at the interior of the shell by lifting up the foil and checking the bottom of the shell. The inside of the shell should appear fairly dry, and perhaps taking a little bit of color. If it still appears translucent or doughy, return it to the oven and bake 5-10 minutes more, until the interior has dried out and it is lightly golden brown. Allow to cool.

Optional finishing detail:

Once the shell is cool enough to handle, you can fancy up your pie. Lightly brush the crimped edge with milk just until moistened. Carefully sprinkle a coarse sugar (demerara or turbinado). The sugar should stick only where the milk is. Avoid letting sugar slip between pan and crust, which can cause it to stick to the pan.

– From Hungry Pigeon pastry chef and co-owner Pat O'Malley

Per serving (based on 10): 288 calories, 4 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram sugar, 21 grams fat, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 440 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.EndText

Hungry Pigeon's Pumpkin Pie


Makes 8-10 servings


1 pie shell, blind-baked (see recipe)

Pumpkin pie filling:

11/4 cups squash puree (we use a blend of local squash: baby belle, hubbard, honey nut) or canned pumpkin

3/4 cup white sugar

11/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of ground cloves

1/3 cup evaporated milk

2 large eggs, beaten

Pumpkin seed whipped cream for garnish (see recipe)


1. Preheat oven to 375 (350 convection). If using fresh squash, seed and cut into large chunks and bake flesh side down on a tray lined with parchment for 40 to 45 minutes, until very soft. Scoop everything out from skins and puree in a food processor. Pass through a sieve to remove lumps. Set aside.

2. For the pie: Preheat oven to 325 (300 convection). In a small saucepot, combine the squash puree and all the dry ingredients and begin heating over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the sugar is dissolved, add in the evaporated milk and continue to stir until well combined.

3. Heat mixture until it starts to boil, then remove from heat and, while stirring constantly, slowly begin incorporating the eggs into the pumpkin mixture. (Pro tip: we do this part with an immersion blender, which guarantees a smooth filling and minimizes any extra air getting mixed into the pie, which can create cracks).

5. Pour warm mixture into your prepared pie shell and bake in oven for 35 minutes, or until the center is set, and you can press your fingertips against it. Allow to cool.

6. Top with pumpkin seed whipped cream.

– From Hungry Pigeon pastry chef and co-owner Pat O'Malley

Per Serving (based on 10): 644 calories, 10 grams protein, 62 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams sugar, 43 grams fat, 144 milligrams cholesterol, 570 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.EndText

Hungry Pigeon's Bread Gravy


Serves 8 to 10


1/2 large onion, cut into a small dice

8 ounces pork breakfast sausage

2 cloves minced garlic

4 tablespoons butter

6 cups turkey stock

2 cups whole milk

6 to 8 ounces bread crumbs, preferably homemade


1. In a warm pan, add onions, sausage, garlic, and butter, stirring constantly to brown and break up sausage and onion. Add turkey stock and milk. Bring to simmer while stirring to get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

2. Whisk in bread crumbs to desired thickness. You should wait at least two minutes after adding to see how thick the bread will make the gravy as it will continue to absorb liquid. Salt and pepper to taste.

- From Hungry Pigeon chef and co-owner Scott Schroeder

Per serving (based on 10): 224 calories, 10 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams sugar, 14 grams fat, 36 milligrams cholesterol, 941 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.EndText

Hungry Pigeon's Roasted Broccoli and Delicata Squash with Warm Rye Berries


Makes 8 servings


2 heads of broccoli, cut in half

2 medium-size delicata squash, skin still on, seeds removed, cut into rings

3 cups rye berries (can can also use wheat berries, farro, or barley)

6 cups water

½ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

4 scallions, thinly sliced

6 sprigs of dill, finely chopped, stems and all

6 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, stems and all

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. For the broccoli and squash: Cut broccoli in half and lay the pieces cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until al dente. Remove and set aside. Lay squash rings on baking sheet, bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Put rye berries and water in pot big enough to hold both. Turn to medium heat on stove. Cook until berries are just tender, about 12 to 15 minutes, making sure they stay covered with 2-3 inches of water above the grain. Once tender, shut off heat. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and allow to sit for 5 minutes, then drain.

4. Assembly: While berries are draining, chop broccoli, stems and all. Place into large mixing bowl with squash rings. Add grains, oil, and vinegar. Mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with herbs. It's ready to be served or can hold for 30-40 minutes.

– From Hungry Pigeon chef and co-owner Scott Schroeder

Per serving: 387 calories, 11 grams protein, 58 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams sugar, 15 grams fat, no cholesterol, 86 milligrams sodium, 14 grams dietary fiber.EndText

Hungry Pigeon's Mushroom Kugel


Serves 8


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound mushrooms (shiitakes, oysters, maitakes, chanterelles)

11/2 pound homemade egg noodles (or sub fresh lasagna sheets cut into ribbons)

2 sticks unsalted butter, in chunks

2 cups sour cream

1 pound cottage cheese

6 large eggs, beaten

12 sprigs fresh chopped parsley


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10x10-inch baking dish.

2. For the mushrooms, saute in three batches in a large pan with one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon olive oil, until brown. Set aside and allow to cool.

3. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles, cook until al dente. Drain. Return noodles to the pot, add butter and stir to melt. Then add sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs, cooked mushrooms and parsley. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Put into baking dish. Bake until top is golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.

– from Hungry Pigeon chef and co-owner, Scott Scrhoeder

Per Serving: 645 calories; 20 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams sugar; 51 grams fat; 267 milligrams cholesterol; 516 milligrams sodium; 2 grams dietary fiber.EndText

Pumpkin Seed Whipped Cream


Makes 8 to 10 servings


1 cup green pumpkin seeds, well toasted

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

3 cups heavy cream


1. Mix together pumpkin seeds, corn syrup, sugar, and salt and puree in a food processor until it reaches the consistency of peanut butter. Scoop out and set aside.

2. Mix heavy cream into seed puree until fully blended. Pass through a sieve, and then whip in a blender until it reaches desired consistency.

- From Hungry Pigeon pastry chef and co-owner Pat O'Malley

Per serving (based on 10): 261 calories, 4 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams sugar, 20 grams fat, 49 milligrams cholesterol, 47 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.EndText

Hungry Pigeon's Cider-Brined Turkey


Makes 8 to 10 servings


For the brine:

1/2 gallon dry hard cider (Kurant or Commonwealth Cider Traditional dry are good options)

11/2 cups kosher salt

12 bay leaves

2 tablespoons black peppercorn

1 teaspoon whole allspice berries

1/2 gallon apple cider

8 sprigs parsley

8 sprigs sage

8 sprigs rosemary

8 sprigs thyme

6 shallots

1 gallon cold water

1 fresh turkey (we used a 14-pound bird from Keiser's Pheasantry)

For the glaze:

2 cups apple cider

2 cups dry hard cider

2 cups turkey stock

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon salt

4 sprigs parsley

4 sprigs sage

4 sprigs rosemary

4 sprigs thyme

Cider glaze to garnish


1. In a pot, combine the hard cider, salt, bay leaf, peppercorns, and allspice. Cook over high heat, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Shut off and set aside. In a blender, combine about half the apple cider with fresh herbs and shallots, and blend on medium for about a minute, until consistency is still a little chunky. Mix into a bowl with the rest of the cider and the water, and then add the puree to the cooled hard cider blend. Submerge the turkey in the brine and refrigerate 2-3 days.

2. Make the glaze: Combine all liquids, honey, and salt in a pot and reduce to 11/2 cups. Rough-chop the herbs and place in a smaller container that you can cover. (I used a to-go quart container with a lid). Pour the hot liquid reduction over the herbs and immediately cover. Leave at room temperature until you're ready to glaze. This could be made a day ahead but needs to be refrigerated.

3. Cook the turkey: Remove turkey from the brine, allow it to drain, then dry inside and out with clean cloths. Place in a roasting pan. Allow the turkey to sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (a lower temp, Schroeder says produces a moister bird). Roast for 4-5 hours, or until an internal temperature of 150-155-degrees. Rotate every 45 minutes. Allow turkey to rest at room temp for at least an hour.

4. About 45 minutes before serving, turn your oven to 500-550 degrees. Once the oven is hot and the turkey is fully rested, place it in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the turkey is as brown as you like it. Remove and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes and up to 40 minutes. It will continue to cook as it rests. It should ultimately reach an internal temperature of about 165 degrees. Brush liberally with the glaze before carving.

– From Hungry Pigeon chef and co-owner Scott Schroeder

Per serving (based on 10): 714 calories, 109 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams sugar, 18 grams fat, 275 milligrams cholesterol, 688 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber.EndText

Hungry Pigeon's Fat Cat Duchess Potatoes


Makes 10 servings


21/2 pounds peeled potatoes (starchy potatoes, not redskins; we use Kennebecks but russets work fine)

1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature, divided

1/2 cup heavy cream room temperature, divided

3 egg yolks

Salt, to taste

10 to 12 ounces Fat Cat cheese from Birchrun Hills Farm


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut potatoes in medium-size chunks, cover with water, and cook over medium-low heat until tender. Drain well, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they just stop steaming.

2. In a food processor, put about half the potatoes, half the butter, and half the cream and puree until smooth and season to taste. Scrape into a mixing bowl and repeat with the other half of the potatoes, butter, and cream and scrape that into the mixing bowl. Mix in the egg yolks and refrigerate. This step can easily be done a day ahead.

3. When the potatoes are cool, spread half the mixture in the bottom of a lightly buttered baking dish. Slice all the cheese so it's evenly layered across the potatoes. Put the rest of the potatoes into a pastry bag with a star tip and evenly pipe little peaks until all of the cheese is completely covered. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

- From Hungry Pigeon chef and co-owner Scott Schroeder

Per serving: 311 calories, 10 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams sugar, 22 grams fat, 125 milligrams cholesterol, 311 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.EndText