The Best Way to Roast a Pigeon

The great bulk of this recipe is lifted straight from the wonderful book, The Skinny French Kitchen by Harry Eastwood.  I tested a bunch of the recipes from the book prior to its publication and I have never come across a better way to cook a pigeon – it comes out perfectly pink and super delicious so I’ve plumped for Harry’s pigeon cooking method.  The potatoes are Pomme Boulangere which I don’t really have a recipe for, it’s more of a method which you can adjust to how much you need to make.  If you’ve never had them before, they are basically a less rich version of Dauphinoise.  Sorry the photos aren’t great, I was too keen to eat them to hang around taking photos, greedy.

For the Pigeon…

Preheat the oven to 220c.  Rub each pigeon in olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper and stuff the cavity with a few sprigs of thyme.  Now brown all over in a frying pan on a medium to high heat.  Place the birds in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and wrap each bird in a piece of tinfoil, then cover with a couple of tea towels.  This is the brilliant part, you can now leave it to rest for between 30 minutes and 1 hour which is particularly good if you’ve got some friends round as it means you don’t have to be messing around with the cooking when what you really want to being doing is talking to them.

For the potatoes…

Preheat the oven to 180c.  I never really follow any kind of recipe for this, but guess at how many potatoes people will get through and start from there.  First off, finely slice an onion or two and fry over a low-medium heat with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes until they’re really nice and soft.  Add some crushed garlic and some thyme leaves (and or rosemary / sage) and cook for a further few minutes.  Remove from the heat.

Slice your potatoes as finely as you can, a mandolin is brilliant for this, and place a layer in the base of a gratin dish.  Then spread a little of the onion mix, a few knobs of butter and some seasoning (you could add some grated nutmeg here as well if you like).  Keep layering up until you end with a layer of potatoes.  Pour in some chicken or vegetable stock, enough so it just comes up to the level of the top slices of potato.  Cook for 1hr to 1 1/4hrs, until the top layer has turned a nice golden colour.

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