I popped along to the Oval farmer's market yesterday, picking up, among other foodstuffs, a wood pigeon for £2.50. Wood pigeons are available all year round. Which is a result. I already had the mushrooms and spinach, and some pine nuts and raisins were in the cupboard, so this concoction came to mind. The resulting plate of food turned out to be a deep, rich and intense plate of deliciousness.
It's an easy enough job to remove the breasts from the carcass of a pigeon -all you need is a small sharp knife and a thumb.
If you can't be arsed making a stock with the carcass (and if you're only making this for one I can entirely understand), simply use all chicken stock.
1 wood pigeon, breasts removed and skinned
a dab of tomato purée or tomato ketchup
a splash of olive oil
½ banana shallot (or ½ small onion)
25g thickly cut pancetta, diced
1 heaped tbsp dried porcini, soaked in hot water for 15 mins, squeezed dry and chopped
a handful of button mushrooms
60ml red wine
a little squeeze of honey to taste (I had acacia)
stock to barely cover
a pinch of thyme leaves
a splash of olive oil
200g baby spinach
1 dsp raisins, soaked in hot water, squeezed dry
1 dsp toasted pine nuts
a squeeze of lemon
a knob of butter
salt + black pepper
If you're going to make a stock, break up the carcass into small pieces and smear with a dab of tomato purée. Roast at 220C/200 fan for ten minutes. Transfer to a small pan, barely cover with chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Strain into a jug.
Heat a little olive oil in a pan and sauté the shallot until slightly softened. Add the pancetta and continue cooking until it's just starting to colour. Throw in the button mushrooms with the porcini and sauté for a minute or two. Add the red wine and let it bubble away to nothing. Pour in some stock to barely cover, sprinkle over some thyme and simmer for 5 minutes. Season and take off the heat.
Heat a little olive oil in another pan and throw in the spinach. Stir until wilted. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Add the pine nuts, raisins and a squeeze of lemon, stir, season and take off the heat.
When your ready to eat, heat a small frying pan and season the pigeon breasts. When the frying pan is hot throw in a knob of butter and slide in the breasts. Sauté for 2-3 minutes a side, basting all the time, then remove from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes. While the pigeon is resting, gently reheat the stew and spinach.