Tender woodpigeon breast boasts a flavour to rival a good steak, so it’s no wonder it stars in Cai ap Bryn’s tortilla wrap, a game fair favourite. Serves three to four.
This particular recipe for woodpigeon breast is so simple, I actually feel a tad guilty publishing it, but it’s so good that it cannot be discounted as a perfect lunchtime snack. You can easily knock up a quick sauce, or simply buy a good-quality hoisin to speed up the process even more.
Woodpigeon breast wraps
- 4 pigeon breasts
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Chinese five-spice
- 4 large tortilla wraps
- 1/3 large cucumber, sliced into small batons
- 2 spring onions, sliced into small strips
- 20g watercress
- 2 red chillies, finely sliced
For the sauc
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1½ tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp chinese five-spice
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- 1 tsp miso paste
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Splash of water
- First of all, make the sauce. Mix all the ingredients in a pan over a medium to low heat. Stir until everything has dissolved and mixed together, then set aside.
- Take the pigeon breasts out of the fridge and leave them to reach room temperature. Coat them in oil, salt, pepper and Chinese five-spice.
- Sear the meat on a very hot skillet for roughly 40 seconds on each side. Once done, remove and rest for 5 minutes. This should leave the meat quite rare. When it has rested, slice lengthwise into thin strips. Place in a bowl and cover with the sauce.
- On a medium heat, warm the tortillas on a skillet, or cover them with foil and place them in an oven for 10 minutes at 150°C, then set aside. Add the pigeon breast and oriental sauce mix to the same pan for about 15 seconds to warm up. Move the mix around with a wooden spoon, then take off the heat and remove from the pan — the mixture should be warm, but the meat not overcooked.
- Build the wraps by adding the thin slices of cucumber, spring onion, and watercress. Place the pigeon breast slices and sauce on top, and finish with some finely sliced chillies (optional), then wrap it up.
Thoughts on cooking woodpigeon breast
I first started catering at game fairs and other country events in 2010. I could always get a decent supply of woodpigeon and, as they were fairly cheap to buy in bulk, I decided to include them on my events menu. They very quickly grew in popularity and the Wild Food Catering Company — my business before Game & Flames — became renowned for woodpigeon and hoisin sauce wraps.
Woodpigeon is incredibly sustainable and the recipe itself is so simple yet tasty that I continue to make it more than a decade later. The meat is tender when cooked right, with a lovely — but not overpowering — gamey flavour. In fact, if it’s cooked rare to medium rare, it’s more like steak.
Packed with iron and very low in cholesterol, it really should be considered a superfood. The sweet Asian sauce really works well and creates a similar flavour to Chinese crispy duck pancakes.
When we cater for weddings, we offer woodpigeon poppers. This is a recipe I have shared previously and it’s one that always gets people’s attention. When I explain that the tasty little canapés are actually pigeon wrapped in bacon, guests are shocked.
The truth is most people who are not engaged in fieldsports are not aware of how good pigeon tastes. I take a huge amount of joy in introducing it to people.