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Pigeon burgers in a peppercorn sauce

Tim Maddams shares his recipe for pigeon burgers in a peppercorn sauce

Pigeon burgers

Tim's delectable pigeon burgers with peppercorn sauce make the most of this tasty bird

I never tire of eating pigeon and am constantly tinkering with recipes for a variety of dishes. The younger birds at the beginning of the summer get plucked and roasted. They are well worth the effort – roasting them whole draws the flavour from the bones. Whole birds are best roasted in a pan on the stove top. Begin with them on their backs and season well, cook in a little butter, or bacon fat if you have it. I always keep the fat from roasted meat joints to use for cooking other things — it saves waste and improves flavour.

pigeon burgers

Tim Maddams is a private chef who has worked with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage.

Recipe for pigeon burgers in a peppercorn sauce


For the pigeon burgers 

  • 8 pigeon breasts, minced
  • 80g minced pork fat, ideally back fat

Allow 2 breasts, plus 20g minced pork fat per burger. If you don’t have the fat, you can use pork mince but it’s the fat you want ideally.

  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
Pigeon burgers

Pigeon breasts minced with pork fat and chopped thyme make the best hache – or burgers – in the world

For the peppercorn sauce 

  • 1 dessert spoon butter
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns, lightly curshed in a pestle and mortar
  • 1 dessert spoon flour
  • Handful of chopped flatleaf parsley
  • 1 glass good white wine
  • 4 dessert spoons Worcester sauce
  • Half pint chicken, beef or pork stock (or better still, pigeon stock)
pigeon burgers

The burgers are best served while they are still a little pink in the middle, and garnished with fresh parsley

The method

Serves 4

  1. Season the meat mixture with half the thyme, salt and pepper and shape into burger shapes — I do this using an upside-down pastry cutter. Allow the burgers to set in the fridge for an hour or two so they will hold their shape while cooking.
  2. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan and begin cooking the onion, add the pepper and as the onion softens, add the Worcester sauce and cook away until almost dry, but be careful not to burn it. Then add half a glass of white wine and repeat the process until you have hardly any liquid left at all. Turn down the heat and add the flour. Whisk in the stock a little at a time and add the rest of the thyme, simmer gently for 15 minutes and taste — add salt if it needs it and more pepper if it’s not peppery enough for you.
  3. Cook your burgers in a hot frying pan until just done — a hint of pinkness is best in the middle if you can manage it — letting them rest for a few minutes.
  4. Serve them with the sauce and chopped parsley to finish, and French fries or chips. Nothing else will do. Bon appetit!