From my living room window, I can see 5 common wood pigeon doing their best to eat all the new shoots on a large elderflower tree. I find it quite ridiculous that 10 town pigeons sit watching them from a neighbouring rooftop. The diet of the wood pigeon consists of plants, fruits, berries, ants, worms, etc., while it’s feral cousin seems to live on leftover fast food and cigarette butts. Such is life. However, all is not complete bliss in wood pigeon world. Since this species of dove devours seed and sprouting vegetables, it’s classified (like it’s cousins and the rabbit) as vermin, so it’s open season on pigeon all year round!
I went to market on Sunday, with the intention of buying a rabbit – last week the Pheasant Girl had a big pile of them – this week there were none! Looking at my half full glass, I bought a brace of pigeon and put in a request for two rabbits next week.
Pigeon are quite small in comparison to chicken, but they are about the size of a partridge and taste similar, perhaps slightly more gamey, but not as strong as pheasant. If you like either of those birds, you’ll love pigeon and they are available almost everywhere.
Roast Wood Pigeon recipe (1 bird per person):
Put a little salt and pepper, along with a knob of butter, the herbs and garlic inside the pigeon. Season the outside of the bird too. Heat an oven proof frying pan on the hob and have the oven ready at a temperature of 180ºC. The other knob of butter goes into the pan until it foams and melts.
Brown the pigeon all over for 8 minutes.
A little direct heat is OK on the breast, but for the most part, spoon the hot butter over the top as opposed to burning it directly, to avoid making the meat dry. When the time has elapsed, remove the bird to the oven for a further 12 minutes.
When done, wrap the pigeon in foil and turn it breast side down for 10 minutes before serving.
and a few Brussels sprouts, garlic and smoked streaky bacon (with a drizzle of olive oil).