June 27th, 2013
I’ve been very lucky lately, the pigeons have been at the farmer’s Brussels sprouts, so for the last couple of weeks (at the Farmers’ Market) I’ve had six pigeon breasts added to my bag of vegetables, as a gift. As I love the taste of pigeon, I’m absolutely delighted! Note, these are Wood Pigeon and unlike their town cousins, live on fruit, vegetables, pollen, bugs, etc. All pigeon are classified as vermin, so there’s no shooting season or licence needed to hunt them.
Pigeon do a lot of flying, so there’s not much fat on them, therefore they should be cooked very quickly or braised slowly (otherwise they’ll be tough). I decided to have these medium rare with a cream sauce.
For the sauce: fry a chopped medium onion with 3 or 4 chopped rashers of streaky bacon in olive oil until the bacon has taken a little colour.
Add some ground rosemary, sage, thyme, chopped garlic, sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Pour on half a pint of home made stock (mine was duck), a large glass of red wine and a couple of splashes of Balsamic Vinegar. Reduce the liquid to half, taste to see if it requires further seasoning and strain.
Rub a frying pan with a little olive oil and heat until it starts to smoke.
Season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper then fry the pigeon breasts for no more than 2 minutes per side . Don’t overdo it or they will become chewy. When cooked, place the breasts on a hot plate to rest while you finish the sauce.
Deglaze the frying pan with the wine and stock sauce.
Thicken with a tablespoon full of double cream (or crème fraîche if you prefer). Stir vigorously on a low heat so that the sauce doesn’t separate. Pour the sauce onto the pigeon breasts and serve with seasonal vegetables.
N.B. the sauce is equally good without cream.