Spiced Crispy Pigeon Pie

This delectable party pie can be made well in advance and then served hot, with just a mixed salad and good bread. The full flavour of pigeon goes beautifully with the fresh ginger and spring onion and the paper-thin fillo or strudel pastry makes it something very special.

Ingredients

  • 8 wood pigeons
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon, broken into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 2 teaspoons (2 x 5 ml spoons) paprika
  • ¾ pint (450 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml spoon) caster sugar
  • 2-inch (5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
  • finely grated find of ½ lemon
  • 2 bunches of spring onions
  • 4 oz (125 g) butter
  • 12 oz (375 g) fillo pastry
  • salt, black pepper

Method

Put the pigeons in a large, heavy saucepan. Intersperse the broken sticks of cinnamon and sprinkle on the paprika and salt and pepper. Add the water. Cover the pan and bring to the boil; then turn down the heat and simmer very gently for about 2 hours until the pigeons are tender. When the pigeons are cool enough to handle, cut and pick all the flesh off them (cutting up any large pieces) and put into a large bowl.

Strain off the pan juices into a smaller saucepan and stir in the caster sugar. Boil over a fierce heat for 7-10 minutes until well reduced and syrupy. Stir in the chopped ginger and garlic and the grated lemon rind. Pour the reduced juices on to the pigeon flesh and mix well. Peel the spring onions and chop them, using as much of the green stalk as possible, and mix them in with the pigeons. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Melt the butter in a mall saucepan and brush a very large round or square ovenproof dish with some of it. Lay a sheet of fillo pastry on the dish, folding in the edges to fit, and brush it thinly with butter. Then lay on a second sheet. Spoon in the pigeon mixture. Lay another sheet of pastry on top, again folding in the edges, brush with butter and continue like this in layers until all the pastry is used up, brushing the top sheet of pastry with butter, too. You can now cook the pie at once if you like or keep it until later. Once cooked it will keep well for some time in a low oven.

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 3/325°F/170°C and cook the pie in the centre for 30-40 minutes; then increase the heat to Gas Mark 8/450°F/230°C, just for 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is a rich golden-brown.

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