Monday, July 25, 2016

Grilled Pigeon Breast

Grilled Pigeon, Doe's Leap Trappist goat cheese, Adam's raspberries, Digger's Mirth greens

A few days ago, I remembered a story told to me by Sarah Flack, a vendor at Burlington Farmer’s Market some 16 years ago.

She extoled the eating of pigeons, which I didn’t appreciate at the time, since I was coming off a vegan phase and had only just started eating meat again.

I was reminded of that little chat when my husband Dan came home with a clear plastic bag full of meaty redness.

I thought it was squirrel. 

Because, I had asked for squirrel.

What was it? 
 Pigeon Breasts
“Pigeon breasts”, he said, “…and, I don’t guarantee they’re free of birdshot”.

I covered them in “Cheetah (cheater) Marinade” - sour cream and Italian dressing, overnight – then, roasted till medium rare.

The meat was red like duck, with a similar texture.

I sliced and served them in a salad of fresh raspberries (Adam’s Berry Farm), baby greens from Digger’s Mirth, and shaved Trappist goat cheese from Doe’s Leap Farm.  All complemented the extremely rich flavor of pigeon.  No dressing was necessary.

The best part of this recipe is that the cooking stage can be done a day or two ahead.

The difficult bit is sourcing farm-country pigeon, but duck breast is a fine substitute.

Sarah Flack was so right all those years ago!

Pigeon IS delicious.

Tip: If using duck breast, remove the skin before marinating and slice into ribbons.  Render over very low heat in ½ cup of water until there are crispy cracklings; drain on paper towels, salt and enjoy.  Strain the fat, refrigerate and save for another use. 
Wild Pigeon Salad

Grilled Pigeon Breast
Serves 6-8

12 Pigeon Breasts (boneless, skinless)


¼ Cup Cabot Sour Cream
¼ Cup Drew’s Classic Italian Dressing (soy/wheat-free)
¼ Cup Grapeseed Oil


Skewer breasts and place upside-down in a tall water glass (or two).

Pour marinade over the meat and gently agitate to coat.

Refrigerate 24-48 hours.

Let sit at room temperature 20-30 minutes.

Grill over medium heat, turning as necessary until plump and 140 f. for medium-rare.

Let rest covered with foil and a heavy towel for at least 10 minutes. 

You may refrigerate, or slice thin and serve immediately.