Roast yoghurt-marinated pigeon on seeded potato quinoa rösti & roast cauliflower with umeshu plum relish

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Fusion: A Culinary Journey


By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

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Pigeons can be either domesticated or wild. The latter will be more gamey in flavour and also possibly more lean - which means they can dry out when cooking as they have little excess fat. Restaurants tend to use farmed squab pigeons, which are consistent in quality and size and incredibly tasty. This yoghurt marinade takes its inspiration from the tandoor marinades of India: the enzymes contained in the yoghurt tenderise the meat. The Swiss introduced the world to rosti and I’ve eaten more versions than I can remember. Memorable ones included the addition of grated hard cheese, bacon lardons or apple to the usually starchy potato. Here I mix the potato with seeds and ground quinoa which adds a really lovely crunch and flavour to them, and also I bake them first before shallow-frying them. I created these rosti at The Providores many years ago, and they then crossed the Atlantic to appear on the brunch menu at PUBLIC restaurant in New York, a restaurant The Providores was instrumental in setting up w’ith the owners. Umeshu is a delicious sweet Japanese liqueur made by macerating unripe ume fruit (much like a plum) with sugar and alcohol. The flavour pairs really well with the plums in the relish and goes incredibly well with the pigeon - if you can’t find it, then any good-quality plum or apricot liqueur will suffice. I also give a recipe for a pigeon stock which is lovely drizzled over the dish, although it can be frozen in ice cube trays to be used at a later date too.


  • 4 x squab pigeon, plucked, livers will ideally still be intact in the body cavity
  • 100 g plain thick yoghurt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp roasted cumin seeds, ground
  • ½ tsp roasted coriander seeds, ground
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp ground star anise
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (or use fresh chilli or chilli sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
  • 4 large firm but ripe plums, washed, halved, stones discarded, cut into chunks
  • 200 ml umeshu liqueur
  • 80 g unrefined caster sugar
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) cider vinegar
  • 3 large floury potatoes (around 750 g peeled weight)
  • 3 Tbsp uncooked quinoa, ground into a coarse powder in a spice grinder
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tsp curry powder (use a commercial blend or make one yourself)
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower, separate the florets and cut each lengthways into 2-3 pieces
  • 50 g butter (although you can use oil to cook the pigeon in)
  • a handful of rocket, pea shoots or watercress to garnish


Cut the legs from the carcasses and then remove the breasts - you may want to ask your butcher to do this for you. Mix the yoghurt with half the garlic, the ground cumin and coriander and ¼ teaspoon salt. Use this to generously coat the breasts and then place them, covered, in the fridge for 12-36 hours.

Make the relish. Heat up a medium-sized pot, add 1 Tablespoon cooking oil, then sauté the onion, ginger and the remaining garlic until they begin to caramelise over a moderate heat, stirring frequently. Stir in the star anise, chilli flakes and half the sesame seeds and sauté another minute. Add the plums, umeshu liqueur and sugar and bring to a boil, then put the lid on the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Take the lid off, give it a stir and increase the heat and cook until the liquid has reduced by three-quarters. Add the vinegar, bring back to the boil then take off the heat, taste for seasoning and spoon into a clean container and seal while hot. Once cooled this will keep in the fridge for a week.

Make the rösti. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grate the potatoes coarsely then squeeze out any excess moisture between your hands. Mix with the ground quinoa, poppy seeds, the remaining sesame seeds, the rosemary, 2 teaspoons flaky salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Line a baking tray with parchment and lightly oil it. Using a 10-cm round cookie cutter, or something similar, press a quarter of the mixture in firmly to give you a fat disc. Use the remaining mixture in the same way to give you four rostis. Drizzle a little oil over each one then bake for 20-30 minutes, until they’re beginning to turn golden. Leave to cool on the tray then remove, and turn the oven to 200°C.

Mix the curry powder in a medium bowl with 1 Tablespoon cooking oil and a little salt then add the cauliflower and toss it all together. Lay the cauliflower on the same tray you baked the rosti on and cook until the florets turn golden - around 6-10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

To cook the pigeon, wipe off excess yoghurt marinade and discard it. Place an ovenproof pan large enough to hold all eight breasts over a moderate-high heat and then add the butter and 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the butter has been sizzling for 30 seconds place the breasts in skin-side down and cook for 2 minutes, before turning over and cooking for 1 minute. Place in the oven and cook for a further 2 minutes then take out and leave to rest in the pan, in a warm place, for 2 minutes. At this point they will be between medium-rare and medium - you may prefer to cook a little less or more.

To cook the rösti, heat up 1 cm of vegetable oil in a deep-sided pan (or you can deep-fry them) and when it gets to 180°C place the rösti in, as many as you can fit comfortably and cook on both sides until golden and crunchy. Take from the oil, drain of excess oil and keep warm while you cook the remainder.

To Serve

Place a hot rosti on each plate and lay some rocket on top. Place the roast cauliflower on top, then two pigeon breasts and finally some of the plum relish. Drizzle with the pigeon stock (if making it) and eat straight away.

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