This dish is modernised and adapted from the Larousse Gastronomique. The gentle sweetness of braised peas are a brilliant foil to the irony, savoury tang of rare pigeon breast. It is easy and quick to make. We didn’t have quite enough pigeon breast so used some venison as well – as long as they are both rare, it doesn’t matter which.
4 skinless pigeon breasts (200g) and 1 piece venison haunch steak cut into slices that resemble the pigeon breasts in size (180g)
(or 8 pigeon breasts)
500g Bird’s Eye peas – buy good ones or they will be floury
2 heads gem lettuce, halved
6 shallots, finely sliced
80g smoked streaky bacon, chopped into small chunks
100ml white wine and 80 ml sherry (or 180ml white wine)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
squeeze of lemon juice
40g unsalted butter
bouquet garni (bundle of herbs that can include: bay leaves, small quantities of sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme)
salt and pepper
How to make:
Season the meat all over with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a good sized casserole on the hob. Cook the pigeon breasts for around 1-2 minutes on each side, and then set aside. Cook the venison if it is thick for around 2-3 minutes on each side, and set aside with the pigeon and cover with tin foil and a tea towel to keep warm. They should both be done rare, and left pink in the middle – any more and they will become inedibly dry.
In the same pan add the shallots and the bacon and cook until the shallot is very soft, and slightly browned. Deglaze the pan by adding wine, sherry and water and bubble until the liquid is reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper. Add the peas and lettuce halves and cook gently for 10-15 minutes until tender. Add the vinegar and a squeeze lemon juice. And taste for seasoning again. Remove the bouquet garni.
Warm the meat through gently again if necessary, by resting on top of the gently bubbling peas for a bit, not really allowing to cook any further. Slice the meat into ½ inch thick pieces and serve on top of the lettuce and peas.
Roasted new potatoes. Côtes du Rhône.