Pigeons with a Compote of Red Cabbage

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Cooking for Christmas

Cooking for Christmas

By Josceline Dimbleby

Published 1978

  • About

I always think of this as a New Year’s dish. It’s a simple pigeon casserole which can be made ahead and re-heats well. This is one of those dishes which are particularly heartening on a cold day, and the temperature usually seems to drop once the excitement of Christmas Day has passed.


  • 2 rounded tablespoons (2 x 15 ml rounded spoons) plain flour
  • 4 wood pigeons
  • 2 tablespoons (2 x 15 ml spoons) sunflower oil, plus extra if necessary
  • 4 tablespoons (4 x 15 ml spoons) olive oil
  • salt, black pepper

For the compote

  • 2 largish onions
  • 2 oz (50 g) butter
  • 1 lb (500 g) red cabbage
  • 2-inch (5 cm) piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons (2 x 5 ml spoons) caraway seeds
  • 4 oz (125 g) pitted prunes, cut in half
  • ¼ pint (150 ml) red wine
  • salt


First make the compote. Peel the onions and chop them roughly. Melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole over a medium heat, add the onion and cook until soft and just beginning to brown. Meanwhile chop up the red cabbage finely. Peel the ginger and the garlic and chop them together finely. When the onion is soft add the chopped ginger and garlic followed by the cabbage. Add the caraway seeds, the halved prunes and the wine. Season with salt. Cover the casserole dish with a lid and remove it from the heat.

Put the flour into a bowl and season with salt and black pepper. Dip the pigeons in the flour to coat them thoroughly. Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying-pan over a high heat and try the pigeons just to brown them on all sides, adding more oil if necessary. Arrange them on top of the red cabbage and spoon a tablespoon of olive oil over each one. Heat the oven to Gas Mark 3/325°F/170°C. Cook, covered in the centre of the oven for about 1½ hours.