Pigeon breast salad, by Philip Paxman

04 June 2010 by
Pigeon breast salad, by Philip Paxman

This recipe for pigeon breast salad comes from Philip Paxman of South Farm wedding and conference venue in Royston, Hertfordshire.

(Serves six as a starter or makes 18 crostini)

• 1tbs olive oil
• 1 head of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 chilli pepper, finely chopped
• 6 thick-cut slices pancetta, diced
• 12 wild pigeon breast fillets, boned and skinned
• 1 shot of brandy, Calvados or Armagnac
• 1 large pak choi or 500g sprouting broccoli, carvolo nero or chard
• 1 large sweet bell pepper
• Handful of wild mushrooms
• 4 slices of thick white toast, cut into croutons
• Selection of mixed salad leaves or seedlings
• Balsamic vinegar
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and black pepper

For crostini
• 18 pieces of rustic bread


In a wok or deep frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic, chilli and pancetta. When smoking hot, drop in the pigeon breast fillets and turn with a spatula for two to three minutes to sear and seal.

Turn off the heat, add the brandy to the wok and light immediately. Don't set fire to the extractor hood! Flambé the breasts and pancetta and turn again when the fire goes out.

Set the wok aside and cover with foil to allow the breasts to cool for a couple of minutes. Remove the pigeon, garlic, chilli and pancetta from the wok, cover and keep warm.

In the same wok, add the pak choi or alternative leaves, pepper, mushrooms and croutons and stir fry briefly, using a little more oil if necessary. Season to taste.

To serve as a starter, make little pyramids of the stir-fried vegetables on six plates, slice the pigeon breasts lengthways and arrange like a bonfire over the vegetables. Sprinkle over the garlic, chilli, pancetta and croutons, together with any residual juices from the wok. Add the salad leaves around each plate. Finally, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

For crostini

Simplify the dish by just using the pigeon, garlic, pancetta and sweet pepper. Toast the bread and smear with the wok juices, before piling on the stir-friend ingredients. Dress with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm.

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