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Poached breast and confit legs of pigeon with Cevennes onions and licquorice

12 February 2010

This recipe was created by Australian-born chef Brett Graham, who was the big winner in the 2010 Michelin guide. Graham rose to two-star level at London's Ledbury restaurant and also won a star for his Harwood Arms pub in Fulham. See also our video interview with Graham and read the full article.

(Serves four)

  • 4 large 500-550g pigeons
  • Sea salt
  • 200g chanterelles (prepped, cleaned, washed and dried)
  • 50g butter
  • Chives (finely chopped)
  • 4 liquorice sticks
  • Dried fennel branches
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Duck fat

For the onion tart

  • 4 small rounds of puff pastry
  • 2 Cevennes onions (cut into wedges and roasted)
  • Winter savory
  • 2 Jerusalem artichokes (peeled and thinly sliced)

For the onion purée

  • 3 Cevennes onions
  • 30g butter
  • Cream to adjust
  • Burning charcoal

For the onion and liquorice compote

  • 3 Cevennes onions (sliced)
  • 20ml vegetable oil
  • A small piece of smoked bacon
  • 1 liquorice stick
  • Sea salt

    For the pigeon sauce

- 50ml vegetable oil

  1. Carcasses from pigeons
  2. Pigeon livers (finely chopped)
  3. 50ml Madeira
  4. 20ml sherry vinegar
  5. 1 banana shallot (sliced)
  6. 6 button mushrooms (sliced)
  7. 500ml brown chicken stock
  8. Salt and pepper


Remove breasts from pigeons and peel off their skins. Place pairs of breasts together and sous vide in small vacuum bags.

Remove legs and wings, lightly salt with a tablespoon of sea salt, then place in the fridge for six hours. Wipe off all the salt, then put the legs and wings in warm duck fat and stew gently until tender. Remove from the fat and place in the fridge between two small trays.

Remove the hearts and livers from the carcasses and reserve. Clean out the innards and lungs and discard.

For the pigeon sauce

Chop the carcasses and roast in a little vegetable oil until golden, then add the chopped shallots and button mushrooms and caramelise. Deglaze with Madeira and sherry vinegar and add the brown chicken stock. Transfer to a small pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Pass through a fine chinois and reduce to a light glaze. Season. Lightly cook the livers in the pan with a little seasoning and add to the sauce.

For the onion purée

Cut the onion into wedges and lightly roast until tender. Place on a rack and cook over charcoal that is burning in a small tray and cover tightly with foil. Barbecue until soft and smoky. Place in a pan then add butter and milk, and boil, then purée until smooth.

For the onion and liquorice compote

Caramelise until nice and dark with bacon, a little vegetable oil and the liquorice. Add a little sea salt. Reserve and keep warm.

For the onion tart

Roast the wedges of onion and cool and lightly season. Place some slices of Jerusalem artichoke on the pastry and brush with butter. Add the savory. Bake until crisp and layer with slices of roasted onion.

To finish

Poach the pigeon in a water bath at 63˚C for 13-15 minutes and keep warm. Sweat the chanterelles in a little butter and finish with chives. Warm the tart in the oven for three minutes.

Caramelise the pigeon legs until crispy. Place the legs on some dried fennel sticks and flame with a torch then cover with a glass cloche. Sear the pigeon heart and wing and place on a liquorice skewer.

On a large plate put a swirl of the onion purée, a quenelle of onion compote and the tart. Carve the pigeon in half and place on a pile of chanterelles and finish with the sauce. Serve the legs on the side and remove the cloche at the table.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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