PRUNES! I can here you all screaming already! But it actually works really well, Cooking the pigeon on the crown will help to keep the meat juicy, the worst thing to do with pigeon is over cook it, pink is good, pigeon is generally at its best spring to autumn, but of course you can get them all year long,

My first taste of pigeon 

 I maybe shouldn’t tell this story, but as it’s an extremely long time ago I don’t think it’ll really matter, my grandma and granddad lived in the same village as me when I was growing up, a small village, one where everyone knew everyone else, that kind of place, my granddad was a fantastic gardener, I don’t remember ever buying any fruit or vegetables when I was a kid, potatoes, leeks, peas, beans etc, there was an orchard with apples, pears , damsons, plums, he grew raspberries, first time I was stung by a wasp was picking raspberries from his garden,  so I was a very lucky boy when it came to fresh fruit and vegetables, but the one thing that he was plagued by were pigeons, they’d sit in an enormous oak tree, and I mean enormous, that over looked the garden, and at every opportunity would do their best to eat everything in sight, on this one day , I’d just gotten off the school bus which was 20 yards from my grandparents house, when all I heard was the loudest bang I’d ever heard, we lived in a village remember, no shop, very little traffic, so this bang was loud, unbeknownst to me my granddad owned a shotgun, a single barrelled 10 bore which he’d owned for years apparently, (which incidentally my dad now has albeit it’s been disarmed) and on this day had decided enough was enough, the pigeon was going to get it! He’d taken a potshot at one, hit it cleanly and it fell to earth, I arrived on scene to find him wearing his cap, smoking a hamlet cigar with a huge grin, shotgun under one arm and carrying the pigeon with pride “ do you want this Jib?” ( Jib was my nickname, we’ve no idea where it came from but I’m still called Jib by my family today “ My first taste of wood pigeon, God bless you Granddad Bob

This recipe will serve 4 people 

Shopping list 

4 wood pigeon crowns

300ml of Sherry 

A splash of rapeseed oil 

A good handful of dried prunes 

4 good handfuls of peppery rocket or watercress 

3 tablespoons of caster sugar 

A splash of water 

4 tablespoons of good quality sherry vinegar 


Method 

1. Pour 200 ml of sherry over the pigeon and marinate overnight if possible 

2. Pour the rest of the sherry over the prunes and leave overnight 

3. Pre heat your oven to 200c

4. Take the pigeon from the sherry and dry with kitchen towel

5. Season the pigeon well and heat a heavy oven proof pan and add a splash of oil 

6. Put your pigeon in the pan skin side down and brown for 2 minutes 

7. Brown on all sides and then roast in the oven for 5 minutes 

8. Remove from the oven and leave to rest

9. Put the sugar and water in a pan and cook until you have a caramel, add the vinegar and the drained prunes and allow to cool

10. Remove the pigeon breasts from the crown and slice, dress the rocket with some of the dressing and place onto warm plates, place the pigeon on top and scatter the prunes around and drizzle with more dressing and serve 

Happy cooking 


Jon




Written by Jon Fell

Head Chef Rosehill Theatre, Chef on the Simply Good Food TV app, run a Seafood Cookery Class at Peter Sidwell Cookery School, Newspaper food columnist

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