Wood pigeon with a grape and clementine relish

Wood pigeon with a grape and clementine relish

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
4 wood pigeons
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots
1-2 thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons verjuice
50ml marsala
400ml Brown chicken and veal stock

For the relish

Quantity Ingredient
75g seedless red grapes
2 clementines
50g candied pecans, (see note)
1 rosemary sprig
1/2 tablespoon clear honey
1 tablespoon verjuice or white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Remove the breasts from the pigeons and set aside in the fridge, then cut the thigh and leg pieces from the carcasses.
  2. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the legs, thighs and carcasses and brown all over. Halve, peel and finely dice the shallots. Once the bones are browned, remove and set aside. Pour off the excess fat and add the shallots, thyme sprigs and peppercorns to the pan. Sauté for 5–6 minutes until starting to soften. Deglaze the pan with the verjuice and reduce to ½ tablespoon, then add the Marsala and reduce again to 1 tablespoon. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add back the bones and simmer gently for 30–40 minutes, skimming occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, for the relish, peel and halve the grapes; place in a bowl. Segment the clementines, removing all skin and pith and add to the bowl with the candied pecans; set aside. Finely chop enough rosemary leaves to give you ½–1 teaspoon.
  4. To finish the sauce, strain and reduce to about 150 ml, until the flavour is concentrated, skimming often. Taste, adjust the seasoning; keep warm.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat, season the pigeon breasts and cook them skin side down until well browned and the skin is crisp, about 3–4 minutes. Turn them over, reduce the heat and cook for 1–2 minutes for medium rare. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 3–4 minutes.
  6. To finish the relish, whisk together the honey, verjuice, olive oil and rosemary to taste. Pour this dressing over the fruit and pecans. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, reheat the sauce. Slice the pigeon breasts and arrange on plates. Spoon a little of the relish to the side and finish with the sauce.


  • To prepare the candied pecans, put 100 g pecan halves into a bowl, pour boiling water over them, then drain well. Sift 1 tablespoon icing sugar, pinch of ground cinnamon and pinch of cayenne together into another bowl, add the pecans and toss them in the icing sugar mixture. Line a baking sheet with silicone paper, lay the nuts out on the paper and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. They may need to be turned over once when they have just started to brown.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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