Boiled Pigeons and Bacon

In the Middle Ages it was customary to simmer game and meat together. I liken this blending of flavours, and the fat of the bacon prevents the pigeon from becoming dry. The great dovecotes of mediaeval castles were not for show: they were a meat source–a living refrigerator. Young birds were taken whenever needed for the kitchens, and pigeons were much eaten.


  • 4 pigeons
  • 1 faggot of herbs
  • a 900 g/2 lb piece of bacon (forehock or shoulder)
  • 1 onion, studded with cloves
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 900 g/2 lb spinach


Place all the ingredients, except the spinach, in a large pan. Cover with cold water and season with pepper. Bring to the boil, skimming the surface, then cover and simmer gently for 1-1 ½ hours or until tender.

Wash the spinach well, then cook until wilted. Drain well.

Drain the bacon and pigeons. Place the bacon on a large serving dish. Surround with spinach and lay the pigeons on top. Serve hot. Parsley sauce and Cumberland sauce go well with this.