Tim Maddams’ recipe for Pigeon Pottage (or pigeon stew!)
PUBLISHED: 11:58 13 July 2017
This pigeon stew is simple to make and is great for using up the odds and ends of veg hanging around in your fridge... Tim Maddams shares his pigeon pottage recipe with us
Well, spring has arrived and if you are lucky enough to live in a part of the country where the very mild spring has not played havoc with the pigeons, you may well have bagged plenty for a good feed and to stock up the freezer at the same time. Here in East Devon, alas, the birds have been more committed to breeding than feeding – well, I like to think that as those words flow so well, but really they are on the buds early and have largely ignored the drillings, making them more tricky than usual to bring home for supper. So much so that my latest foray saw me return home with just the one for the pot – but how to cook it?
This is basically a version of the Italian classic vegetable stew minestra but I have included pigeon as well as bacon, along with the veg. It’s not only a great way to eat these birds but a good way of using up all sorts of odds and ends of veg as well. You can smoke the pigeon breasts first to give a different dimension if you like, but with all these lovely spring vegetables about I am very happy with it going in as it is.
✦ 2 pigeon breasts (you can use more if you like!)
✦ 1 rasher of proper bacon
✦ 1 large carrot
✦ 1 large onion
✦ 1 pinch chilli flakes (optional)
✦ ½ bunch asparagus
✦ 1 medium potato
✦ 3 cloves of garlic or a bunch of wild garlic if you have it
✦ a little rosemary or thyme (or both)
✦ a little fresh mint
✦ 1 cup frozen garden peas
✦ 150ml extra virgin olive oil
✦ 1pt water
✦ 1 tablespoon tinned chopped tomatoes
✦ 1 fresh, whole bay leaf (leave this whole so it’s easy to remove later)
✦ salt and pepper
✦ hard cheese, grated
1. First, peel and finely chop all your veg (apart from the peas), herbs and garlic. Dice the bacon and the pigeon meat into small cubes.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan, ideally a casserole-type pan that is bigger than it needs to be; the extra space will help get an even cook throughout the dish. Begin by cooking the bacon in the oil, now add the garlic and herbs.
3. Now add the vegetables in descending order, based upon the slowest cooking ones going in first (method to the madness here) and add the bay leaf. Allow everything to cook for a few minutes before adding the next ingredient. The tomatoes should go in last, with the chilli flakes. Then add half of the water – you may not need the rest, better to add more if needed than end up with a watery dish.
4. Once all the vegetables are tender and well seasoned, add the pigeon. Switch off the heat and allow to rest for a couple of minutes.
5. Serve in bowls with the cheese and mint sprinkled over the top.