Monday, 23 February 2009

How to cook a pigeon

Even in the current rush to snap up cheaper cuts pigeon is good value. We bought two recently for £3.50 which have been sitting in the freezer for a few weeks so my other half decided to tackle them this weekend.

He cooks like a typical bloke i.e. without the slightest concern for frugality. If I’m writing a a recipe I worry endlessly about the number of ingredients, in case readers don’t have them and feel they need to go out and buy them. He just plunders the storecupboard and drinks cupboard so this dish (basically pot roast pigeon in red wine) contained bacon, onions, mushrooms, rosemary, oregano, thyme, pimenton, chilli, cumin, mixed spice, red wine, brandy and grated dark chocolate. A sort of mole in other words and very, very good it was too.

Although a pigeon seems like a small boney bird, the richness of the meat makes it go quite a long way particularly if you pad it out with extra ingredients. Stretching strategies might include:

* A rich winey sauce which obviously need not be quite as complicated as my beloved’s
* Some extra meat in the form of bacon or chorizo
* Some forcemeat balls or stuffing
* Bread sauce (though my husband, who hates it, wouldn’t agree)
* Roast root veggies or a root vegetable purée like a parsnip purée or celeriac and potato mash. (We had roast carrots as I’m trying to cut down on carbs post-Argentina)
* Sloppy polenta (very good with dark winey sauces)
* A baked potato

You could even cook it as he did then take all the meat off the bone and turn it into a luscious dark meaty pasta sauce along the lines of pappardelle alle lepre (pasta with hare sauce) only in this case it would be pappardelle alle piccione). Or into a Pigeon Pie. I just recommend cooking it well as it’s much easier to remove what meat there is off the bone.

Do you cook pigeon or other game? If so how cheaply do you get it and what do you like to do with it?


Gerrymh said...

I used to buy game, mostly pheasant and partridge, from the keepers on local shoots. The guns usually get to take a brace home and the rest go to market. It was a good source of cheap game. They were grateful to have the excess taken directly from the farm and I got to fill the freezer! I recall sitting on the kitchen floor with my two small daughters plucking 70 partridge that we had bought for the grand sum of 20.00 pounds(1998). kept us in dinner parties all winter!
Pigeons we shot ourselves, along with rabbit and the occasional hare.
Favourite recipe fpr pigeon, from Traditional farmhouse Fare, Braised pigeon with whiskey and raisins

Saute 1 chopped onion in deep casserole in butter till soft.Add 6 rashers bacon,chopped. Add 2 whole pigeons and saute till lightly coloured..remove birds andleave on one side. Mix in 1oz flour to make roux and add 1 pint chicken stock to make thin sauce.Stir in 3 tbsps whiskey and 2oz raisins. Return pigeons. They should be just covered with liquid.Add bouquet garni and season. bring to boil and simmer for 2 hours.

delicious but maybe not totally frugal. Still if the pigeons come for the price of a couple of cartridges what the hell!

smtfhw said...

Our local butcher sells pigeons at £3.00 a brace. I cooked them at New Year, having cut off the breasts and legs. The carcasses ended up as a stew, the legs got confitted in left-over goose fat from the Christmas bird, and the breasts were pan fried and the pan deglazed to make a red wine sauce. Very good they were too, as was the stew.

Fiona Beckett said...

Well, Gerry it depends if you had the whisky already! If you've got ingredients in store no reason not to use them (at least that's what my husband would argue!) Sounds an interesting recipe.

And very impressed with your dissection technique smtfhw. Sounds an absolute feast.