April 11, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 2:07 pm

Pigeon with caramelised onion and plum wine

This was the second of my late night midweek dinners that grew into something unexpected. These pigeon breasts had been sitting in the freezer from the time I made my unfortunate bastilla. Since there was just enough for one, it seemed sensible to use them while Goon was away.

Again, I was just planing to cook them lightly, have some new potatoes and rocket and, maybe, a red wine reduction if I wasn’t falling asleep by that point. As you can see, the new potatoes and salad stayed. But, just before I started cooking, I was flicking through one of my newest cookery books, Geat British Menu, and spotted a starter for pigeon with caramelised red onions. This seemed like a good idea to me so I started frying one small sliced onion with a level tablespoon of sugar and a large knob of butter

As usual, as the onion was caramelising, I had a nose through everything else on the worksurfaces and in our cupboard. This time I discovered one of our mostly finished bottles of plum wine, which I had bought in Borough Market. I could see the plum flavours working very well with the gaminess of the pigeon and the sweet onion.

Usually I wouldn’t add fruit wine to food as it is a bit pricey and I have to go all the way to Borough to get more, but this one needed to be used soon. Plus, those bottles are STRONG with 14.5 % alcohol. I knew what would happen if i started drinking it by myself and I figured that adding a hangover to my already hectic week would be a bad idea.

So my remaining third of a bottle of wine went into my saucepan, not my mouth and, as I let the wine bubble down, the onions turned a very pleasing shade of pinky-purple.This on its own made me love this dish! A quick taste revealed that the sauce was crying out for star anise and cinnamon, so I ground a teaspoon of each and added them to the pan. Finally, I seared the pigeon breasts to medium rare and tossed them in the reduction which by then was very thick.

I think an tangy orange dressing on my rocket and potatoes would have been best to offset the rich sweetness of the pigeon dish but I had no oranges and so a bog standard balsamic vinaigrette had to do. The sweet-tangy combination still worked very well.

This was another one of those dishes that I need to make again. I believe it’s got potential to be really good if I ever get the time to think about it properly. The pigeon itself was great but could have been better with some marinating and a citrus dressing on the salad would have been better. However, in this state it was a very nice midweek dinner and fairly quick to make, which is just what I’ve needed this week. 


  1. Looks delicious Ros. I especially like the onions in the plum wine and the addition of the star anise and cinnamon was inspired. I have to admit that I won’t be trying this with pigeon but I will give it a spin with chicken. It seems like a cool mashup of coq a vin.

    Comment by Vanessa — April 11, 2007 @ 3:13 pm

  2. I really like the idea of plum wine with pigeon, sounds like a perfect match. The colour achieved is quite amazing too. I’ve been requested to make a big batch of rhubarb compote for my neighbour after she tried the batch I made to go with my dad’s latkes. I love the bright pink colour it turns when you let it cool, I think pink is definitely “in” in my kitchen at the moment (gosh that makes me sound quite effeminate :-# )

    Comment by Trig — April 12, 2007 @ 1:30 pm

  3. Ros, looks delicious as ever! Paul really wants to try pigeon but I’m concerned about the gaminess of it. I might give something like this a go though! Have a great weekend!

    Comment by Freya — April 13, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  4. Good to meet you last week, Ros!
    The pidgeon looks great - I think it is a robust enough flavour to take the plum wine pretty well… how about a little flambe with my stashed sloe gin? Now there’s a thought - maybe I’ll wait until autumn when the gin will come into its own!

    Comment by Richard — April 16, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  5. I love that you experiment with so many different sorts of meats. Its wonderful and inspiring. One of these days I’m gonna cook some squab. ;)

    Comment by Lea — April 17, 2007 @ 3:52 pm

  6. Hi Vanessa, I’m contemplating other coq au vin mashups. There were loads of fruit wines at that stall in Borough and It’s so hard to resist using them in cooking.

    Hi Trig, at least your blog hasn’t gone the same colour as mine yet. That would probably be something to worry about.

    Hi Freya, you should definitely give pigeon a go. If you have a farmers market with a good game stall near you, keep an eye out for some pigeon sausages as they might be a good way of introducing youself to the flavour without getting the full-on gaminess.

    Hi Richard. The sloe gin sounds like a great idea, although I can never get it to flambée properly. I’ve got a quarter bottle sitting around somewhere so I might give it a go when I next buy pigeon.

    Hi Lea. Yes, get squab! It’s sometimes a little tough to cook right because it dries out but with a bit of care it’s great and I think with your tastes you’ll eally like the flavour.

    Comment by ros — April 19, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

  7. I love all of your dishes and I have to admit I never thought about eating pigeon before but this is tempting me. I love the idea behind the onion and plum wine, I’m sure this will work well with other meats.

    Comment by Pigeon Control — July 6, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

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