Paloma Andaluza al Horno


Wood pigeon is vastly underrated in the UK. In town, the birds eat only the the best food – they particularly likes elder leaves and doze in the tree’s branches after stuffing themselves stupid, unlike their impoverished feral cousins who prefer fast food takeaways! In contrast to pheasant, which are bred and released, wood pigeon is totally free range and likes a natural diet!

Pigeon are classified as vermin, so you should be able to find them all year round. Farmers have a steady supply of them because pigeon love to eat seeds that have just been planted. You can see the late Archie Coates (a professional pigeon shooter employed by farmers) in action here and a discussion by Tom Payne  on why it’s important to control pigeon numbers – “A lot is different since Archie Coats’ heyday, but one thing remains constant – the threat to crops posed by pigeons.”


I found a very tempting Pigeon Andaluza recipe by Clarissa Dickson Wright (in her Game Cookbook), which contrasted and corresponded with a Perdices Rellenas a la Andaluza (Andalusian stuffed partridge) in Culinaria Spain. I’ve amalgamated the two recipes and changed things around considerably. Pigeon is quite popular in Southern Europe and quite rightly so – it’s delicious!

migas de pan

I buy decent brown sourdough bread and save the end pieces in the fridge. Every couple of weeks I chop if up and make croutons – these will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge and a year in the freezer. They also make delicious breadcrumbs when crushes with a mortar and pestle.

Stuffing (per bird):

2 slices jamón serrano (chopped)
2 anchovies (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 teaspoons parsley (chopped)
a dessertspoon breadcrumbs


Chop up a couple of tinned anchovies (ideally in extra virgin olive oil),

jamón serrano

along with two slices of jamón serrano. In Spain you can buy tacos of very good jamón at a much lower prices than slices. The tacos are little lumps chopped off the ham bone when all the easy to carve meat has been used up.

el relleno

Mix the meat, fish, garlic and parsley, then stuff inside the pigeon. If you have the offal mix that in too! Seal the bird with a couple of toothpicks and rub with the olive oil from the anchovies.

Pigeon Andaluz (sufficient for 2 pigeon):

1 stuffed wood pigeon (per person) or any small game bird, such as quail or partridge
1 small onion (sliced)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
3 tomatoes (grated)
1 cup of chicken stock
a splash of sherry vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons of non-pareilles capers (to serve)
1 teaspoon chopped parsley (to serve)

cebolla y pimiento verde

Rub some olive oil into an oven dish and lay sliced onion on the bottom. Put a layer of chopped green peppers on top.

ajo y tomate

Grate 3 tomatoes, mix in the garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Spread the tomato on top of the green pepper.


Pour on 1 cup of chicken stock and a splash of sherry vinegar.

paloma rellena

Add the pigeon and roast in a preheated oven at 200º C for 45 minutes. Turn the bird/s every 15 minutes or so.


While the oven is on, poach some sliced potatoes to accompany the pigeon.

paloma rellena al horno

When done, sprinkle with capers and chopped parsley. Serve with the above potatoes and a glass of Palomo Cojo (lame pigeon) Verdejo from Reuda.

This is to die for and packed with umami!

Other Pigeon posts

About Mad Dog
This entry was posted in Drink, Fish, Food, Game, Meat, Recipes, Spanish and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Paloma Andaluza al Horno

  1. Eha says:

    You may have titled this in Spanish but what a delightfully English post ! Including the mention of one of my favourite ‘Two Fat Ladies’ ! Quite naturally can but enjoy the read . . . but do like your stuffing I’ll most certainly copy . . . and, I’ll display my total ignorance in admitting I have never sighted brown sourdough . . . oh, to live in a big metro area !!! Trust you well . . .

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – this will work well in any small bird and prosciutto would be an adequate substitute if you can’t get serrano ham. I think you can make sourdough with any bread flour – brown is not as common as white, but having been talked into buying wholemeal by Justin Piers Gellatly, more than 10 years ago, I’ve never looked back!

  2. Karen says:

    Unfortunately small game birds are not to be had but small Cornish hens would work, I believe. They would just require more stuffing.

  3. Pingback: Pichón Relleno | Mad Dog TV Dinners

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