A steady stream of pigeons keeps José Souto on his toes and provides enough meat to entertain family and friends with Spanish pinchos. Serves 4 (as a starter).
The great thing about pigeons is that you can use them straight away. They can be breasted or fully plucked and you can get quite inventive with them. On this particular day, a few of us were getting together for a glass of wine in the evening — and what better way to enjoy it than with some fresh-shot pigeon pinchos.
Most of you will be familiar with the term tapas — a plate of small, bite-sized food served with drinks. In northern Spain, you are more likely to see pinchos instead of tapas. Pinchos are pretty much anything you can put on a skewer.
In this recipe, I used fresh pigeon breasts cut into strips, marinated Spanish or Mexican-style and served on a refreshing green mango and papaya salad.
- 8 Pigeon breasts with skin removed, each cut into three strips
- 2 tsp Chipotle chilli paste
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100ml orange juice
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp tomato puree
For the dressing and salad
- Juice of one lime
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- Green mango, cut into thin strips
- 1 green papaya
- salt and pepper
- 2 tsp basil, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp mint, roughly chopped
- Place the chipotle paste, two tablespoons of oil, orange juice, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika and tomato puree into a bowl and mix together well. Then add the pigeon, making sure that the marinade mixes well into the meat, and leave for a couple of hours.
- For the salad dressing, put the lime juice, sugar, olive oil, white wine vinegar and chopped chilli into a bowl and mix well to dissolve the sugar in the dressing. Add the mango and papaya to the dressing, mix and put into the fridge.
- Soak some skewers in water for at least 20 minutes. Thread the meat on to the skewers, season and cook on a barbecue or griddle plate for a couple of minutes on each side.
- Add the roughly chopped herbs to the salad and mix together well. Place the salad on to a serving plate or board and arrange the pigeon pinchos on top.
Jose on pigeon shooting
A little while ago, I had an afternoon shooting pigeons over some barley that had been badly flattened by the wind. I am by no means a novice at this and have previously enjoyed great days both roosting and decoying.
However, a couple of issues hinder me on such a day. First, I don’t use a shotgun very often. Most of my shooting is stalking, therefore I aim far too much and ignore the little voice in my head screaming “swing through the shot, José, don’t aim, swing and shoot”. For the first hour, I seem hell-bent on not shooting, but scaring pigeons. Once I get into my rhythm, I am on them.
The second thing is that I get bored — one of the reasons I do not use high seats — if the birds are not coming in. As a result, I start taking some long shots that, more often than not, don’t pay off. Fortunately, on this day, I had a steady stream coming in and, after a couple of hours, I had shot a few birds, enough for a dinner for my family and friends.