Pigeon - How to Cook

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Pigeon must certainly be served rare, the French like to serve them almost raw but I prefer rare and certainly no more than medium rare, an overcooked pigeon is of little use for anything other than the stockpot.

Pigeon with Salsify & Nettle

Cook them in a hot oven, I give them little more than eight or nine minutes followed by five minutes resting time breast side down. You can, of course serve the bird whole but I like to debone them after cooking so that I can add the chopped carcase together with my seasonings to the sauce or gravy.

Like other game birds they can be cooked with goose fat and/or butter so remember to keep basting the breasts and legs with the cooking juices. As I mentioned earlier the cavity could be filled with fresh and dried herbs and spices, anything from thyme, sage or rosemary, to peppercorns, juniper berries, star anise or cinnamon depending on how you wish to serve them. Look at other cuisines for inspiration, the Chinese have excellent pigeon dishes in their repertoire and North African spices work particularly well.

If you can get some game bones to make a stock then you should make a batch and freeze it in suitable amounts, failing that make a rich, brown fresh chicken stock. This can be passed through a sieve and reduced before adding the cooked pigeon carcase and other flavourings.

Serve pigeon with any number of side dishes, for vegetables I prefer roast or purees from salsify to celeriac, parsnips or flavoured potatoes. Cous cous, pasta and risotto also work well together.

Content and picture Miles Collins