Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Wood Pigeon Breast with Sherry & Onion Sauce

Bit of a long-winded title, that one. Last weekend, I made arrangements to visit my local farmers' market. In my area I have access to a different farmers' market every weekend, but the Telegraph Hill Market, held every third Saturday of the month, from 10am to 4pm is a mere 5 or 10 minute walk from my flat.

The market is small but perfectly formed. A well stocked fish stall (well, it was at 11am), a veg stall, meat and a game seller. There was also a coffee van and a bread stall where I picked up a lovely olive ciabatta, and the obligatory stall selling marinated olives. What more could you want? Actually, I was a bit upset that the veg stall didn't have any new season asparagus, one of the only reasons why I'd bothered to get my backside out of bed so early, but disappointment was quickly blown away by the wood pigeon breasts I'd spotted. Initially I hopped from back to forth - diced venison? - wood pigeon? - wild rabbit? But £5.25 for 8 breasts proved too much of a bargain for me and I snapped them up.

I've only had wood pigeon once before, at Christmas. As I remembered, it was best cooked to rare, and it's lightly gamey flavour might work well with something fruity.

So here's what I came up with. The onion and sherry sauce was great - slightly tart, a hint of sweetness from the sherry and the onions, but with an underlying savoury tone. It turns into a sticky, unctuous jam down to the slow cooking and accompanied the pigeon well.

Wood Pigeon Breast with Sherry & Onion Sauce

Serves 1

2 wood pigeon breasts
1 onion, silced into half rings finely
A good glug of sherry - maybe about 4 tbsp
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

In a non-stick pan, fry the onions very slowly (i.e. on a very low heat) until soft and slightly caramelised. This takes roughly 15 - 20 minutes. Add the sherry and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the pomegranate molasses and turn down low. Add a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, heat up another non stick frying pan until quite hot. Oil the pigeon breasts and add to the pan. Sear for about a minute on each side, season with salt and pepper and then leave to rest under the foil for at least 10 minutes. To serve, slice the pigeon breasts diagonally against the grain and spoon the onion and sherry sauce over it. I served it with new potatoes boiled, then fried in oil and thyme with some purple sprouting broccoli, simply steamed.

12 comments:

Charlie McVeigh said...

Ideal - we shoot loads of pigeons in the winter in Devon (over an appalling, Hieronymous Bosch-type contraption called a Pigeon Magnet). Removing the breast (the only edible part unless you're Spanish) requires only a pair of scissors. I have a freezer full of them so thanks for the recipe. I often serve them with port, onion, thyme and juniper sauce.

Ollie said...

Looks delicious. The molasses are an inspired addition.

William Leigh said...

Yummmmmmm

Chris said...

Is all pigeon you eat (in restaurants etc.) wood pigeon or is some just normal pigeon?? Cos I really like the stuff but don't fancy eating the flesh of a bird that's been pecking at some dried sick in Trafalgar Square.

Gourmet Chick said...

Lizzie this looks brilliant. I have never cooked pigeon before so am wondering what the difference would be between a wood pigeon and a standard pigeon.

Helen said...

yay! Glad you went with the pom molasses. I love pigeon and pom molasses but I usually end up doing it as a salad. This looks like an interesting sauce. I think I may have some sherry lurking somewhere..

Charlie McVeigh said...

Chris, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square are actually Rock Doves the natural habitat of which is high sea cliffs. AFter being used for generations as messengers they went feral and found that they were even more successful in an urban environment.

The woodpigeon is a much bigger bird (also present in London) but which eats only seeds, grain and berries. It is also much prettier and generally more edible-looking.

Ben said...

Looks lovely. Finally got round to cooking the rabbit I bought from the same stall last night. Could have done with another half hour but was very good. The leftovers will be better still...

Niamh said...

This looks great Lizzie! I've never cooked wood pigeon but it's on my list now. Nice sauce too.

Browners said...

Great recipe. I adore pigeon. The only problem is that I normally want to eat about 12 of them.

Crafty Bitch said...

ok...this is ignorant...but where can i buy this pom molasses that all you cool kids are talking about? I want to try this recipe!

Fat Woman said...

This is a great recipe, thank you. Waitrose sell pomegranate molasses these days. I've nearly finished a bottle on nothing but this recipe!