Toresani Allo Spiedo

Pigeons with Juniper Berries

Toresani is the Venetian word used to describe a particular variety of pigeon, also called Torraioli. I have found this dish works with any type of pigeon and that the essential part of the dish is that you must cook on a spit, either in the oven or outside over an open fire or barbecue.


  • 10 juniper berries
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoonolive oil
  • 1 rosemary branch, about 15 cm (6 inches) long 4 small, plump, gutted and cleaned pigeons
  • 130 g ( oz) pork fat (fresh fat, skinned and removed from the back in a sheet)


Crush the juniper berries in a mortar along with the bay leaves and some salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and mix together.

Dip the rosemary branch in the flavoured oil and paint the inside of each bird with the oil. Cut the fat into 4 strips and wrap a strip around each bird with the oil. Secure it in place with string, then thread each bird on to the spit and cook over a medium heat for 30 minutes, basting with the remaining oil.

Just before serving remove the string around the fat. Traditionally, this is a dish served with polenta that has been sliced and fried quickly in a pan with a little oil until brown on both sides.