Pigeon Fanciers Look Away…
It may seem strange to some that a recent post would extol the presence and importance of wildlife in our own backyard and yet hold the common pigeon in a contempt unbefitting someone of my standing in the natural world
Well I’ve never liked the feathered rat, their prescence in and around town centres such as Lincoln and Hull grate on my nerves like finger nails on a chalkboard. Many years ago, a girl I knew and would have married had I been old enough and the feeling reciprocated, had the misfortune to take a direct hit in her mass of blonde hair from a pigeon one saturday afternoon in the middle of a busy shopping centre. The memory of that lingered long after and I always approach them with a sense of trepidation.
Pigeon fancying is lost on me, each to their own and all of that but who wants a hobby which involves scraping pigeon droppings from a shed floor and then demand its reinstatement as an official sport? Cleaning a wooden khazi full of birds isn’t a sport, I’ve watched them do it and it’s hardly ski jumping or the super bowl.
A roast pigeon is another matter however, plucked and cooked rare-medium and my hatred wains. They used to be quite popular in years gone by, a pigeon pie was (and still is) a fine meal indeed, in large part because of the excellent gravy it makes.
I often cook them, usually as a starter with a risotto, maybe a lentil dal with some Indian flavours, certainly with seasonal mushrooms or sometimes whole as a main course.
Roasting a pigeon is easy enough, take a dressed bird and stick a sprig of thyme, a clove of garlic (unpeeled) and a couple of juniper berries up its cavity and rub the whole thing with butter or goose fat. Crank your oven up high then ’seal’ the pigeon breast side down in a hot pan of oil and butter, flip it over and spoon some of the fat over the carcasse and then turn it over again so it’s breast side down.
Roast the pigeon for between ten and thirteen minutes depending on your preference although a well done pigeon is as appetising as a live one. Rest it for a few minutes breast side down and serve it with some braised cabbage or a creamy puree of celeriac, parsnip, potato or butternut. Here’s one I prepared earlier with braised salsify, nettle tagliatelle, roast shallots and wild fennel…