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Wild Pigeon Casserole

Serves 4

  • 2 pigeons, feathers, head and feet removed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 50g lardons
  • 12 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 100g small mushrooms, chopped
  • bouquet garni: fresh parsley, thyme and bay leaf tied into a bunch
  • flour seasoned with salt and pepper
  • red wine
  • ½ pint chicken stock

Cut off the neck and wing tips from the pigeon and place in a large sauce pan with the heart, cleaned gizzards and liver. Cover with boiling water and simmer, to make a stock for another time.

Pre heat your oven to 180°c. Sauté the onion in a little olive oil until golden, then add the garlic and fry for a further minute, stirring to stop the garlic burning. Put into a casserole dish.

Gently fry the lardons and shallots until browned. Add to the casserole, along with the mushrooms.

Cleave the pigeons into two along the breast bone and spine, flour and brown off in the frying pan. Add a little more oil if necessary. Add to the casserole arranging the vegetables around them and tucking the bouquet garni into the middle.

Add a generous splash of red wine and the chicken stock to the frying pan, mix with the residues and pour over the pigeons.

Cover the casserole and place in the oven for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours, until tender. Tame pigeon will cook within an hour but wild pigeon may need longer to tenderise, as the age of the bird is uncertain.

Stir a couple of times during cooking. Mix the flour with a little water and pour into the casserole to make a nice thick sauce.

Serve with oven roasted vegetables, such as leeks, parsnips and small jacket potatoes.

Tip: Richard’s tip for flouring all meat is to put the seasoned flour into a plastic bag, add the meat in suitable quantities and vigorously shake.

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