Recipe: Sauté of pigeon breasts with walnut and orange salad

28 January 2016
Recipe: Sauté of pigeon breasts with walnut and orange salad

Feral pigeons live about three to five years in the wild or semi-wild; they fly fast at about 50mph and can outmanoeuvre birds of prey. These rock doves were domesticated for food, as homing pigeons and also bred for their plumage in centuries past. Pigeons are common throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia. Pigeons are always available because they do not migrate and so they are plentiful and easy to find in the butchers.

Serves 4 (wheat, gluten and dairy-free)


  • 1tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1tbs syrup from a jar of stem ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1tsp mild mustard (check label for allergens)
  • Juice and grated zest of one unwaxed orange
  • 2tbs white wine vinegar
  • 125ml sunflower oil and extra for cooking
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for salad

  • 4 small handfuls of mixed lettuce and herb leaves, washed
  • 2 whole oranges, peeled and pith removed
  • 4 small handfuls of washed and trimmed watercress
  • 4 plump pigeon breasts
  • 24 walnut halves, halved

Make the dressing first by combining all the ingredients and leave until needed. Arrange the salad leaves on plates. Cut the oranges into segments, remove any pips and arrange the oranges over the salad. Top with the watercress.

Fry the pigeon breasts for three minutes on each side in a little oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. They should be brown on the outside but very pink on the inside. Transfer the pigeon to a warm plate and let them rest.

Add a dash more oil if necessary and fry the walnuts until golden and then sprinkle them over the salads. Carve the pigeon breast into neat slices and arrange them around the salad or down the centre, however you prefer. Pour any pigeon juices into the frying pan and return to the heat with all the dressing. Stir the dressing for a minute until warmed through, and then drizzle over each salad and serve immediately with warm gluten-free pitta or flat breads.

If you make your own mustard it will be stronger, so I suggest using about quarter of the amount.

Recipe taken from Deliciously Wheat, Gluten & Dairy Free (reviewed here) by Antoinette Savill. Photography by Regula Ysewijn

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