Wood pigeons are available in most local butchers and are not only a cheap alternative to the flash French Anjou pigeons, but have a stronger flavour, which is delicious. If you find it easier, ask your butcher to remove the breasts for you (you can keep the carcass to make stocks).
This is a quick, easy, autumn salad and you can use various vegetables. I have used a selection, but you could add red cabbage or beetroot. Both are ideal. I use Asian pears (which are similar to apples), as I find them refreshing to eat and they have a real crunch – but if you can not find them, a good commis pear is good too.
This recipe is perfect as a starter; for a main course, just use a whole pigeon for each person instead, and increase the amount of vegetables.
Serves four as a starter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 wood pigeon breasts
Sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick strips
1 small fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 baby chicory, sliced
1 tbsp chopped hazelnuts
1 Asian pear, core removed and sliced into large strips
100ml olive oil
20ml red wine vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
In a small frying pan add the vegetable oil, then add the butter and allow it to start to foam.
Season the pigeon breasts and add to the pan with the thyme, bay leaf and crushed garlic. Colour on both sides for two minutes (if the breasts are small, cook for less time), then remove from the pan and allow to rest, so the meat will remain nice and pink.
Put the vegetables in a large bowl and add the hazelnuts and pear. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard and parsley. Season and mix well.
Once the pigeon has rested, slice it into three pieces and mix with the vegetables. Check the seasoning and serve. If there are any remaining juices, pour them over the salad.