Plump harvest woodpigeons are at their best in August and September. I devised this dish in order to turn what I normally regard as the tediously long cooking time of brown rice to advantage, but when we came to eat the dish we found the combination of riz complet with pigeons unexpectedly good.
Have the pigeons plucked and dressed for the oven. Tuck most of the herbs into the body cavities.
Melt the butter in a cast-iron casserole and cook the lard fumé and shallot in it for 2 minutes. Add the pigeons and turn them in the butter until browned all over. Transfer the pigeons to a plate and season with salt and pepper.
Stir the rice into the butter remaining in the casserole until completely coated. Pour in the stock, season lightly and bring to the boil.
Place the pigeons on top of the rice, tuck any remaining herbs around them and cover the casserole.
Cook in a moderate oven (Mark 4, 180°C, 375°F; this dish is easy-going – cook for longer in a low oven if you prefer) for 1½–2 hours until the meat is tender and the rice has absorbed all the liquid.
© 1987 Geraldene Holt. All rights reserved.