Pigeon Starter

Pigeon Starter by Graeme PallisterThis ‘easy on the eye’ dish is ‘easy on the Christmas cook’ as well.  Everthing is done in the morning so the temptation of the odd glass of Sherry come meal time is easily forgiven.  Yes, this isn’t your average prawn cocktail entree but the flavours marry together to give you a very simplistic, festive, rich and fruity beginning to the marathon of eating that lies ahead.  The wood pigeon, probably one of the most resourceful game birds for chefs is open season all year round, more often than not it takes a back seat during the game bird season (much to its relief) to the more prominent and iconic grouse, partridge and pheasant, to me pigeon is certainly less gamey and so more versatile in a range of flavoured dishes.

Parsnips are simply fantastic this time of year and the frost has given them that extra natural sweetness, the alcohol soaked prune gives it the ‘sauce factor’ on the palate, you will be amazed how three simple ingredients work so well together.

Serves 4 starters

2 oven ready pigeons

2 parsnips, peeled, cored and diced 2cm pieces

8 quality pitted prunes

2 tablespoons of alcohol; Armagnac, Cognac, Calvados or Sherry

1 tablespoon of double cream

50g unsalted quality butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

In the morning, boil your parsnip dice in plenty of salted water till softened, carefully drain, whilst warm blend with the cream and butter to form a fine puree, season with salt and pepper to taste, place in a microwavable bowl, allow to cool, cling wrap and reserve in the fridge.  Place the prunes and alcohol together in a non-reactive bowl cover with cling and keep at room temperature.

1 hour before you wish to eat, preheat your oven to 180 degrees, heat a oven friendly solid based pan on the stove, season the pigeon fully with salt and pepper, heat the oil up in the pan and gently place the birds on their side and allow to colour, flip the bird onto its other side and brown, tilt it slightly on one side to brown the breast and repeat on the other side, place the bird on its back, it should be evenly browned all over, place  the pan carefully into the oven and cook for a futher 6-8 minutes, remove the birds from the pan and keep somewhere warm with a little foil on top.

To serve simply carve the breasts from the bird, reserve the leg meat for boxing day hash browns!   Lightly warm the parsnip puree in the microwave and serve as shown in the picture, sound simple?  It is!  Have a fantastic Christmas.

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