Our little town of Chipping Norton is blessed with an abundance of bird life. We have the most amazing variety of finches, tits, songbirds and blackbirds. Mind you, this should not be such a great surprise, since the good people of Chipping Norton feed them well and there are plenty of trees and hedgerows for cover and nesting.
The Winter months have been unusually dry and mild this year, particularly compared to last year, so the birds have been able to come and have a bath in our pond all through the Winter. We are particularly fortunate to have a lot of blackbirds in our area since their song is so beautiful to wake up to. Our neighbours have a tall, spindly silver birch tree which acts as a good lookout perch for one particular blackbird to sing his little heart out and check that the way is clear down to the pond.
Our friendly blackbird's exalted position has obviously been noticed, though.... This morning, as I looked out, he was chased off his branch by the biggest, fattest pigeon you ever saw. However, he was in for a surprise since his considerable weight caused the treetop to bend swiftly and alarmingly....he held on....the branch swayed some more....he would not be beaten....until he was virtually upside down, when he made an unceremonious dismount and, in a flurry of down he gave up (presumably hoping nobody had noticed).
And all of this reminded me that it is about time I posted a pigeon recipe!
Last year, at the CLA Gamefair, I was fortunate enough to meet Chef Ralph Skripek of The Butler's Pantry, Derby. Ralph specialises in excellent Game recipes and has recently published a book on Game recipes called "Wild Chef" in which we are featured. Ralph is particularly good at challenging conventions so was delighted to taste our wares and see how they can "add a whole new angle to a dish." He was good enough to use a couple of our bottles in his demonstrations at Blenheim Palace last Summer and has now come up with a tasty Pigeon recipe for us using our Lemon, Basil, Bay & Juniper. So, the next time you find a tasty wood pigeon who has fallen off his last twig and could do with a good marinade, here is the recipe for you:
|Marinated wood pigeon pan fried with smoked bacon on a croute
Marinated wood pigeon pan fried with smoked bacon on a croute, finished with a tossed spring saladette, fresh asparagus and finished with a zesty dressing
4 x pigeon breasts
Sprig of fresh rosemary
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
2 slices of thick cut seeded wholemeal bread
Assorted salad leaves (rocket, ruby reds & lambs ears)
8 x fresh asparagus
2 small cooked beetroots (cut into strips)
Little olive oil
Salt & pepper mill
WOMERSLEY Lemon, Basil, Bay & Juniper
For a fuller flavour, marinate the pigeon breasts with a drizzling of the Womersley dressing, the day before (preferably) and proceed with recipe as per below
1. For a quicker dish, season the pigeon breast with salt & pepper & place on one side
2. Prepare asparagus by trimming the end and peeling the outer bark layer from half way up the asparagus
3. Place in a pan of boiling water, cook until tender, remove and refresh under running cold water
4. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan with the Womersley dressing & a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
5. Remove the fillet from under the pigeon breast, add to the pan (once hot), top side of breast down
6. Pan fry for 3 minutes on each side and remove ‘to rest’
7. Add a little more olive oil & dressing to the same pan
8. Cut two croutes from the seeded bread using a medium sized pastry cutter
9. Chop the smoked bacon into small diced pieces, add to the frying pan with the croutes
10. Cook until croutes are nicely browned on each side and the bacon is crispy
11. Remove bread & bacon from the pan and place the bacon on top of the croute
12. In the middle of a plate, place the croute with the bacon & layer the asparagus on top
13. Add a handful of leaves to a bowl with some strips of beetroot, drizzle over some Womersley dressing & a little olive oil with a few twists of the pepper mill
14. Mix the leaves to coat & place on top of the asparagus
15. Slice the pigeon breast around the leaves