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Woodpigeon with fresh asparagus and mushrooms

This fresh dish from Tim Maddams is simple to whip up but big on flavour — and you can have it ready on the table in less than an hour. Serves two.

woodpigeon with asparagus

Woodpigeon with asparagus and mushrooms

Woodpigeon with fresh asparagus and mushrooms

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes


  • 4 seasoned woodpigeon breasts
  • A good double handful of mushrooms (whichever variety you choose)
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • Some very good olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Punchy chilli flakes
  • ½ a lemon
  • 1 spear of fresh garden mint
  • 40g skinny Crowdie cheese or ricotta


  1. Remove the woodpigeon breasts from the fridge and lightly season them on a small plate, allowing them to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, clean and chunky chop your mushrooms.
  2. Break the tough bottoms from your asparagus spears and save them for use in a stock or soup later on. Place the spears on a baking sheet and lightly dress them with good olive oil. Sprinkle with flaky salt and a few chilli flakes before roasting in a hot oven for around 10 minutes, until the flesh is tender and the outsides have just a hint of colour. Remove them from the oven and leave them on the tray to cool to room temperature. Slice them in half lengthways.
  3. Heat a frying pan over a moderate heat and add a little oil. Fry the mushrooms for a minute or two and season them. Then remove them from the pan.
  4. In the same pan, sear the pigeon breasts for 1 ½ minutes per side. Then add the mushrooms back to the pan and turn off the heat, allowing everything to continue to cook a little in the residual heat for a few minutes, being sure not to overcook the pigeon. Remove the mushrooms and the pigeon to a warmed plate and rest.
  5. Transfer the asparagus to the now more-or-less cool cooking pan and add a squeeze of lemon juice and a few more chilli flakes. Slice the pigeon, adding any juices to the asparagus. Now build your dish on a serving plate. Add leaves of mint, roughly torn, more olive oil, the sliced pigeon, mushrooms, asparagus and the cheese. Finish with a few more chilli flakes, a final squeeze of lemon and a few salt flakes.

Read Tom Payne’s advice on how to handle woodpigeon after shooting.

The inspiration behind this recipe

Adding new things to the foraging basket every year has become more of a challenge as the years roll by, but finding a whole ring of plump St George’s mushrooms growing within minutes of the house was a pleasant surprise. You can use normal shop-bought mushrooms or oyster mushrooms for this recipe unless you happen to be lucky next spring and find your own St George’s. I was already planning on pigeon for lunch, and with the first of the Scottish asparagus starting, it seemed like an obvious thing to put the three together. (Read more on foraging here.)

I tend not to boil or steam asparagus these days as I prefer to roast it in a hot pan or on a tray in the oven if it’s on. Pigeon is the perfect partner to such vegetable and fungal treats, but a little richness and sourness coming from the addition of soft crowdie cheese — you could use a ricotta — and the lemon juice, with some heat from the chilli, elevates the whole thing in a lovely way without making it too indulgent or overly rich. This recipe for woodpigeon with fresh asapargus is simple, but big on flavour.