I made a sloe and blackberry preserve to accompany a luxury Christmas treat of roast venison and I’d been wanting to use it with something else since. These very cheap (£2.50 for four) pigeon breasts were just the thing with their iron richness and firm, smooth texture. I thinned out the jelly with cider used to deglaze the cooking pan. Another benefit of this dish is that it is all done in one pan. (Except for any mashed potato, or greens, you might want on the side.) This is very simple, very delicious and very affordable.
4 pigeon breasts; ½ large carrot, peeled and chopped into small dice; ½ stick celery, chopped into small dice; 2 medium shallots, finely chopped; 1 tbsp chopped bacon pieces; 1 tbsp sour fruit jam or jelly (such as redcurrant, damson, even cranberry); ½ bottle good, dry farmhouse cider
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon pieces until just starting to colour. Remove from the pan and set aside and keep warm. Add the chopped vegetables to the pan and cook until just tender. Remove and set aside and keep warm. You may need to add a little more oil to the pan now. Season the pigeon breasts all over. Get the pan quite hot and place the pigeon breasts in the pan. Cook each side for about 3–4 minutes. After the first side is browned turn the heat off or down to low. The breast are done when they’re brown all over and still have a slight wobble when pressed in the centre. Remove and rest in a warm place. pour the cider into the hot pan and scrape up all the bits. Stir in the jelly to dissolve in the cider and thicken the sauce.
To serve, place the vegetables and bacon in the bottom of a warm bowl, carve the pigeon breast in half and place on the vegetables then pour over the sauce.