Pigeon Breasts in Cream Sauce

pigeon breasts

pigeon breasts

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.

onion and bacon

onion and bacon

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.

ground herbs and garlic

ground herbs and garlic

Add some ground rosemary, sage, thyme, chopped garlic, sea salt and cracked black pepper.

thickened sauce

thickened sauce

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.

flash frying pigeon breasts

flash frying pigeon breasts

Rub a frying pan with a little olive oil and heat until it starts to smoke.

cooked pigeon breasts

cooked pigeon breasts

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 pan with the sauce

deglaze the pan with the sauce

Deglaze the frying pan with the wine and stock sauce.

cream sauce

cream 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.

I enjoyed the pigeon with a glass of Toscar Tempranillo, an organic red from Castilla, Spain.

Other Pigeon posts

About Mad Dog

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37 Responses to Pigeon Breasts in Cream Sauce

  1. This looks and sounds amazing! I love pigeon too. Lo Jardinièr and I have been away this week for a celebration and had the most exquisite pigeon dish I’ve ever tasted with (I’m translating roughly) praline of red peppercorns and spices, roast figs and chocolate sauce – memorable!

  2. sybaritica says:

    Wow… the meat is so much darker than I would have expected. Almost like liver!

    • Mad Dog says:

      It is dark meat and the taste is somewhere between pheasant and partridge in my opinion. I think it’s a very underrated bird, not to mention cheap and sometimes free 🙂

  3. andreamynard says:

    The pigeons have been riling me – they’ve eaten pretty much all the redcurrants and I have to completely cover any brassica in netting to stand a chance. Now you’re inspiring me to take revenge!

  4. Michelle says:

    Whenever I think of pigeon, I think of a waitress in Provence warning: “Pink. Very pink.” I think I’d be more likely to like yours as it appears to be cooked! (Though Steve liked the very pink just fine.)

  5. Eha says:

    The sauce being very much the key I do not suppose this Colonial need worry if said wood pigeon is not available: use one’s imagination 🙂 ! Would have loved to eat this vermin tho’ !!!!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – maybe you could improvise with a regular pigeon or dove that’s come from the countryside and eaten good things. Actually it’s quite normal in France for people to keep regular pigeon for food – they feed them grain, etc. I think the taste is very similar 😉

  6. Beautiful dish and a gift too, you lucky thing! We used to have an old boy round here who shot the surplus of pigeons on his Cortijo, but he’s not well now poor thing and can’t shoot anymore.

  7. Looks great MD, love pigeon ad that sauce would compliment it nicely. Had it in a very good restaurant a little while back. They’d been experimenting with sous vide cooking the legs for stock (the waiter explained) but liked them so much on their own, they served them with the breast, claw and all! Have a look – http://t.co/Y60RU77G3r

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Phil – sous vide is an excellent way of cooking pigeon to keep them tender. Interestingly, the farmer said he can’t be bothered dealing with the legs – he removes the breasts and gives the rest to his dogs. I imagine they’d be a chore when dealing with a large number, though in a restaurant a good profit margin makes all the difference 😉

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    This sounds delicious, MD, and that sauce of yours must have been wonderful. It’s been well over a dozen years since I’ve eaten pigeon. We braise whole pigeons in a tomato sauce and they aren’t easy to come by. I’ve never seen the breasts for sale, only whole birds — and those were live. I’d eat pigeon much more frequently if it came neatly wrapped in anything other than feathers. 😉

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks John – pigeon breasts are relatively common here in comparison, though I see them more in farmers’ markets than butchers 🙂

  9. cecilia says:

    Ah yes, here is the recipe for our incredibly well fed barn pigeons! It looks marvellous! c

  10. You are such a lucky guy to receive such a lovely gift. You certainly do know how to cook a fine bird. 🙂

  11. These look absolutely delicious! I do like the hint about flash-frying but not over-cooking…should anyone show up with a brace of pigeons I will now know what to do!

  12. Thanks ever so much for the comments on Edible Long Island! I appreciate your support!

  13. cquek says:

    hmmmm got to try this.. i have never tried that before

  14. Mad Dog…just checking in as I haven’t seen a new post lately…miss your writing (and thank you for visiting me!)

  15. Pingback: Pigeon au Vin | Mad Dog TV Dinners

  16. Pingback: Pigeon | Mad Dog TV Dinners

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