It’s been a while since I have written a blog or posted a new recipe. Just like anything, as soon as you rekindle the enjoyment of the process, the words start flowing, and the creative juices start juicing! So here I am sharing another of my favorites just in time for the start of Spring.
I couldn’t think of a better recipe to get back into the swing of things than this pigeon dish. Beautifully cooked pigeon breasts with crispy smokey bacon, sweet peas, bitter black pudding and crunchy baby gem hearts.
I’m amazed by how little we as a nation eat game. Local, seasonal, fresh and so tasty! Very much our heritage and culture and certainly something we have forgotten how to respect and to prepare. I know there can be a stigma attached to pigeon, but believe me, I’m not talking tourist bread-scrap-eating Trafalgar Square pigeons, no no no. We’re talking beautiful, plump breasted pigeon (you knew I’d get a Blackadder reference in somewhere).
So this recipe is quick, simple and very satisfying. We used to have this on the specials board in the spring when customers were wanting something hearty but light at the same time. Pigeon is in season all year round, allowing for a fresh, semi-locally sourced pigeon from your butcher no matter the time of year. Any good butcher will get you some in if they don’t carry it regularly. And if not, there are plenty of online retailers and supermarkets that provide it. However, the peak time to get your pigeon would be March/April just when the farmers are starting their crops as the birds will be out to take advantage. They begin nesting at the end of April and on through June, so early summer is also a good time.
There are no rules to this dish, portions can vary to what your preference is. For example, I love bacon so I add a lot more. That being said, feel free to add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like.
- 2 pigeon breasts a portion (skin off)
- 1 handful of frozen peas
- 2-3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
- A few slices of black pudding (if using)
- 2 baby gem hearts a portion
- 1 tbsp of butter
- touch of veg oil
- micro cress to garnish (or mustard cress etc.)
- a splash of white wine
First off, take a medium sized non-stick saute pan which you have a lid for and place on a medium high heat. Dice up your bacon into small chunks, and cut your black pudding (if using) into small cubes and set aside. Add a touch of oil to the pan and cook your bacon and as it starts to colour, add your black pudding and cook until bacon and black pudding is crispy.
Take out your bacon and pudding bits and set aside on a kitchen towel to drain. Meanwhile, season your pigeon breast with a touch of salt and pepper. Careful not to add too much as the bacon does a great job of seasoning the dish. Using the fat left in the pan from the bacon, cook your pigeon breast till nice and pink in the centre about one and a half minutes on each side depending on the size of the breasts. Take these out and let rest to finish off the cooking process.
Grab a couple of baby gem heads and take off the outer layers until you are left with the small heart centre, about two to three leaves should do it. Remove these leaves, wash and drain and place on you serving plate. Next, cut the tips of the base off the hearts being careful not to cut too high up as the leaves will fall apart otherwise. Now cut in half and cut about a third of the centre out like you would core an apple as too much of this will be hard and tough.
Add a knob of butter to the pan and throw in your peas. Frozen is better here as they will retain that great bright colour and not turn to mush before the meal is cooked. As the butter starts to foam, throw in your baby gem hearts and add a splash of white wine. Turn the heat up and put the lid on. Two to three minutes later the baby gem should be nice and tender. You can now return the bacon and black pudding to the pan and toss together to combine all the flavours. The wine and butter along with all the flavours will provide a lovely simple dressing for this salad.
Slice your pigeon breasts, then using a slotted spoon scoop out the salad onto your plate. Place your cut breasts on top and pour some of that beautiful liquor over your salad to dress. Garnish with some micro cress and then eat!
Trust me your, friends will be cooing over this dish.