Pigeon Breast Wrapped in cabbage with Madeira


  • 2 Norfolk squab pigeons
  • 50 g (2 oz) fresh foie gras de canard
  • 4 shallots, coarsely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • ¼ bay leaf
  • a little madeira
  • a little ruby port
  • a little dry white wine
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) chicken stock
  • salt
  • 300 ml (½ pt) double cream
  • a little clarified butter
  • 4 savoy cabbage leaves, 15 cm (6 inches) in diameter, blanched until tender then dried

For the Sauce

  • 2 pigeon carcases, chopped in small pieces
  • a little clarified butter
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • sprig of thyme
  • ¼ bay leaf
  • 2 tbls white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbls vintage dry madeira
  • 450 ml (¾ pt) clear chicken stock
  • 100 g (4 oz) button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbls meat glaze
  • a little fresh truffle, finely diced
  • 25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter

For the Garnish

  • a little clarified butter
  • 175 g (6 oz) assorted wild mushrooms
  • ¼ clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped chives
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 small puff pastry cases shaped as saucepans


Remove the breasts and legs from the pigeons, retaining the carcases for making the sauce. Skin the breasts and put them to one side.

Bone the legs and place them with the hearts and livers from both birds in a small bowl. Add the foie gras de canard, shallots, garlic, thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Then add 2 tsp of madeira, port and dry white wine. Leave to marinate for 12 hours in the refrigerator.

When marinated, place the meat in a colander set over a small pan and catch the juices. Bring them to the boil, removing all the scum and impurities which surface. Reduce the juices over a medium heat until syrupy, add the chicken stock and reduce by fast boiling to half the volume. Strain and leave to cool.

Remove the shallots, thyme, garlic and bay leaf from the meat and discard.

Place the flesh from the legs, hearts, livers and foie gras in a food processor, add 2 good pinches of salt and purée until very fine (approximately 1 minute). This must then be chilled, which can be done in a freezer for about 15 minutes, before working in the cream to give a thick mousse. Check the seasoning and pass the mousse through a fine sieve. Finally add the reduced juices from the marinade and leave the mousse in the refrigerator until required.

To make the sauce, fry the pigeon carcases in the clarified butter until sealed and golden brown.

Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and fry together for 2 or 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine vinegar and cook until dry. Add the madeira and reduce the liquid by half by fast boiling. Moisten with the chicken stock then bring the liquid to the boil and skim off the impurities. Turn down to a simmer, add the mushrooms and cook for 1 hour.

Strain the stock into a pan and bring it to the boil again, skimming off the impurities. Reduce by fast boiling until a light syrupy consistency is achieved. Enrich the sauce with the meat glaze, check the seasoning and consistency and keep warm.

To assemble the pigeons, heat a little clarified butter in a small frying pan and seal the seasoned pigeon breasts for 30 seconds on each side. Leave to cool.

Lay out the cabbage leaves on the table and spoon a small amount of mousse on one half of the leaves. Place the pigeon breasts on top and spoon the remaining mousse over the breasts, smoothing it with a palette knife. To enclose the breasts completely, fold the remaining part of the leaf over the top. Press down on the edge. Trim away the overlapping cabbage.

Wrap each parcel in cling film, ensuring the package is totally airtight. Cook in a saucepan of water at boiling point for about 10 minutes.

To prepare the garnish, heat the clarified butter, throw in the wild mushrooms, garlic, chives, shallot and 15 g (½ oz) of butter and cook over a vigorous heat. Season. Remove from the heat and fill the warm puff pastry cases with the mixture.

To finish, remove the pigeon breasts from the boiling water and carefully unwrap them. Slice each into five pieces and arrange them into a semi-circle on the plates. Place a puff pastry saucepan at the top of each plate.

To finish the sauce, add the diced truffle and whisk in the butter a little at a time. Spoon the sauce round the pigeon. It is now ready to serve.