A great Autumn salad with Wood Pigeon.
4 woodpigeon breast fillets
200g good quality black pudding
200g chunk of smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, rind removed
2 good bunches of watercress
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 frisee lettuce
1 bottle really high quality, aged balsamic vinegar
For the vinaigrette
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp cider vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp caster sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. First prepare the vinaigrette – place all the ingredients in a jam jar or bottle and shake vigorously to emulsify. This will be used to dress the salad.
2. Remove the under fillets from the pigeon breasts. Season the breasts very lightly and place in a small ziplock or vacuum bag. Remove the air and pop them in a pan of not quite simmering water for 6 minutes or so. Remove and cool. This will cook them perfectly pink and keep them super juicy. You can just pan cook them but you run the risk of them drying out.
3. In a big non-stick pan, fry the bacon lardons until crispy, then drain them on kitchen paper. Add the crumbled black pudding to the bacon fat in the pan and cook until crunchy. Add these to the bacon bits.
4. In foaming butter, sear the pigeon breasts for about 2 minutes until lovely and brown. This will warm them through. At the last minute, deglaze with a tablespoon of the posh balsamic. Let them rest on a wooden board.
5. Toss the salad in a bowl with the vinaigrette, and pile in the middle of a plate. Spoon the bacon and black pudding around and slice the pigeon into five slices. Lay these artistically over the salad and add a little balsamic to finish it off.
Note: We also like to make a little black pudding puree to add a little more body to the salad – it’s totally optional, but here is how to do it. Put 200g black pudding into a pan and add 150ml red wine vinegar, 100ml apple juice and a splash of Madeira. Pour in 75ml chicken stock and stir until the mixture has thickened. Season and blitz with a stick blender. A small spoon of this delicious puree on the plate will take the salad to a new level.