Alan Haughie reveals how to cook a hearty pigeon dish that requires minimal preparation
This pot-roast pigeon recipe is a lovely, warming dish that requires minimal preparation, and yet is an intensely flavoured and hearty meal. The breast of the pigeon requires far less cooking time than the tougher leg meat, and the key to this dish is to add the breast meat once everything else is cooked, just poaching it gently in the broth prior to serving. It can be cooked equally well as a large dish or as individual portions if you prefer.
- 4 large wild shot wood pigeon, plucked and oven trimmed
- Rapeseed oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Handful of plain flour
- 5 crushed juniper berries
- 10 crushed black peppercorns
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Handful of baby turnips, scrubbed and trimmed
- 4 shallots, peeled and quartered
- 200ml port
- 100ml Madeira
- 1 litre veal or game stock
- 8 baby leeks
- 1 bunch of baby carrots, peeled
- 2 celery sticks, trimmed into 5cm batons
- Unsalted butter
- Begin by removing the legs and breasts from the pigeon, taking care to leave the skin on as it will prevent the meat from becoming dry while cooking. Place the remaining pigeon carcases on to a baking tray and roast in a hot oven (around 210°C) until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Drain any excess fat from the roasted bones.
- Next take your casserole dish and place it on a hot stove with a little rapeseed oil, season and lightly flour the pigeon pieces then sear on all sides until golden brown, remove from the oil and drain well on kitchen paper.
- Add a little more oil if necessary, then add the juniper and peppercorns to the casserole dish, fry for 30 seconds to release the flavour, then add the garlic, turnips and shallot with a little salt and pepper, brown gently for 2-3 minutes before adding the wines. Allow the liquid to reduce by three-quarters before adding the stock and the roasted pigeon bones, and reduce this liquid by half again on a medium to high heat.
- Remove the bones with kitchen tongs or a slotted spoon, add the pigeon legs and remaining vegetables, place a lid on the dish and simmer gently on a low heat or in the oven (around 150°C) for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the meat is tender and just beginning to come away from the bones.
- The final stage is to add the pigeon breasts to the casserole and poach in the juices for 4-6 minutes, until just cooked through but still slightly pink in the middle.
- Gently whisk in a little butter to enrich the sauce, check the seasoning, then serve. A simple accompaniment of boiled or baked potatoes, or crusty bread would be perfect.