Get the latest hospitality news and inspiration straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Recipe of the week: warm salad of pigeon breast, charred spring onion and bacon

Written by:
Written by:
Recipe of the week: warm salad of pigeon breast, charred spring onion and bacon

The dark red meat of a rare-roasted pigeon breast is tender and full of flavour, as well as being quick to cook and relatively cheap.

The flavour is delicate with a slight irony note. The quickest way to put someone off pigeon is to serve it well done; as with most game there is little fat and the meat needs to be rare to give it succulence. Well cooked and rested, pigeon makes for really good eating.

Cooking on the crown also helps to keep it moist. Your butcher or game dealer should be able to prepare them like this for you. Ask for the wishbone to be removed to make carving easier. The legs and back are best used for stock.

Serves 4 as a starter

For the pigeon
2 pigeon crowns (remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking)
2tbs olive oil
1 clove of garlic, smashed
4 sprigs of thyme
25g unsalted butter
50ml water
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing
4 rashers of smoked, streaky bacon, cut into 1cm pieces
50ml stock; pigeon, chicken or vegetable
1tbs olive oil
2tbs good balsamic vinegar
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and washed
2tsp olive oil
60g watercress, large stalks removed
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve
A handful of freshly made croutons

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Season the pigeon crowns well and heat half the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Place the pigeons in, laying them on one breast. Cook for one to two minutes until the skin is golden and then turn onto the other breast and repeat. Add the remaining oil then the garlic, thyme and butter. Baste the pigeons and then turn to sit breast up.

Add the water to the pan and transfer to the hot oven for two to three minutes. Press the pigeon at the fattest part of the breast to check for doneness; the meat should feel firm, not flabby, but have lots of give still. Remove to rest on a wire rack, breast down. Tip the butter and herbs over the top.

To make the dressing, cook the bacon in a small, non-stick pan until crisp and golden. Add the stock and reduce by half, then stir in the oil and vinegar. Adjust the seasoning.

For the salad, toss the spring onions with the oil and a little seasoning, and cook in a hot chargrill pan, turning frequently. Covering with a lid to create a little steam helps to cook the onions through. Total cooking time will be three to four minutes. Slice into three pieces and toss with the watercress.

To serve, add a little of the dressing to the watercress and spring onions, and then divide between the bowls or plates. Carve the breast from the pigeons and slice each into five or six slices. The skin will vary; sometimes it has enough fat to crisp nicely but on other occasions it can be chewy, so make a call and peel it off before slicing if necessary. Scatter the croutons over the salad and arrange the pigeon slices.

Taken from Well Seasoned: Exploring, Cooking & Eating with the Seasons by Russell Brown and Jonathan Haley

Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!). Subscribe today and save 51%

Start the discussion

Sign in to comment or register new account

Start the working day with

The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign up now for:

  • The latest exclusives from across the industry
  • Innovations, new openings, business news and practical advice
  • The latest product innovations and supplier offers
Sign up for free