Definitely not the Trafalgar Square variety, or a common or garden wood pigeon, but domesticated doves. The amount of dovecotes around Britain suggest that we once ate them regularly, but this is no longer the case, as all the ones restaurants serve are imported. Because the little beasts eat enormous amounts of grain in their short lives, yet obstinately refuse to get very fat, they are expensive to rear, and this price is passed on right up the food chain. The pigeons for my restaurants come from a beautiful estate near Grosetto on the Tuscan coastal plains.
For grilling purposes, unless you have a rotary spit, the birds need to be spatchcocked. Your butcher will do this for you, and if he doesn’t know how, change butcher.
Lay the birds in a tray, brush with flavoured oil, place a thin slice of lemon on each bird, then add salt and pepper. Turn the birds after an hour and repeat with oil and lemon, etc. Once you start to marinate the birds, do not refrigerate.
The point of spatchcocking is to render a near spherical object easy to grill by flattening it. Simply give the pigeons 8 minutes on the breast side and 5 minutes on the other. Rest in a warm part of the grill for 5 minutes more.
Try serving on Bruschetta, with warm Grilled Mushrooms or with Rocket Salad. Get your good Chianti out for this one.