Pigeon Pie

You can make the filling of the pie well in advance so that the final cooking time is just about Z0 minutes to cook the pastry. If you can’t get fresh pigeons Sainsbury’s nearly always sell frozen ones which can be used for this delicious gamy pie.

Ingredients

  • 4 wood pigeons
  • ¾ lb pigs’ kidney (350 g)
  • ½ lb carrots – sliced (225 g)
  • 2 oz rindless streaky bacon, sliced small and chopped (50 g)
  • 2 large peeled tomatoes
  • 1 dessertspoon oregano
  • about 12 crushed coriander seeds
  • 2 glasses red wine
  • about 1 pint stock, preferably made from the pigeon carcasses (570 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 packet puff pastry (or short pastry)

Method

Cut as much pigeon meat as you can from the bones (you can use the carcasses to boil up with bay leaf, onion, salt and black peppercorns to make a delicious stock) and roughly cut up. Slice the pigs’ kidney, the bacon and the carrots. Melt a mixture of 1 tablespoon of oil and 1–2 oz of butter (25–50 g) in the bottom of a large heavy pan. Put the pigeon, kidney and bacon in and toss in the fat but do not brown. Take off heat and stir in the flour. Add heated red wine and enough stock to cover the meat. Put on heat and bring to simmering point until it thickens, stirring often. If it is too thick add more stock. Stir in the carrots, tomatoes and oregano, coriander seeds, salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil and transfer to a hot pie dish which the mixture fills to the top. Cover with foil and cook in the centre of a pre-heated oven Gas 4 (350°F/180°C) for about 1½ hours. Take out and cool. Roll out the pastry fairly thickly and big enough to cover the top of the pie dish. Dampen the rim of the pie dish and carefully lay on the pastry. Press down the edges and cut off neatly. Roll out the scraps and cut out some decorations. These can be as elaborate or as simple as you feel inclined. I really enjoy doing leaves, flowers, birds, even animals. I sometimes cut out letters for messages if it is someone’s birthday or a special occasion – or I have just written Bon appétit! Brush the pastry with some egg yolk (this makes it look so much grander; shiny, golden and professional). Pre-heat oven to Gas 6 (400°F/200°C) and cook pie for about 20 minutes until the pastry looks just right. I don’t think you need potatoes with pies, just some carefully cooked fresh green vegetables.

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