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Pigeon Breast

Harissa pigeon breast with orzo and wilted greens

This recipe is full of flavour and perfect for sharing


For the pigeon

  • 8 pigeon breasts
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the orzo

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 200g orzo
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar

For the wilted greens

  • 300g spinach
  • 200g rocket

For the harissa

  • 200ml olive oil
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers
  • 2 medium red chillies
  • 5 dried arbol chillies
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp caraway or fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt (for seasoning)

To serve

  • A punnet of mustard leaves or watercress


To make the harissa paste

  1. Soak the dried chillies in boiling water for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain (but keep the drained water).
  3. Toast the caraway/fennel seeds in a hot frying pan for a few minutes.
  4. Blend the rest of the ingredients and drizzle in the olive oil, until there’s a thick paste.
  5. Season with salt.

To prepare the pigeon and orzo

  1. Remove the pigeon breasts from the fridge, marinate in the oil and one tablespoon of the harissa paste and return to the fridge for two hours.
  2. Next, bring the chicken stock, retained chilli water and a teaspoon of the paste to the boil with a pinch of salt.
  3. Cook the orzo for eight minutes until just cooked, drain and chill.

To cook the dish

  1. Remove the pigeon from the fridge 10 minutes before you wish to cook it.
  2. Heat a frying pan to a medium-high heat.
  3. Add a tablespoon of rapeseed oil in another frying pan, then add mustard seeds and allow them to begin to pop. Add the orzo and fry on a medium heat until heated through and beginning to colour.
  4. Add the white wine vinegar and season to taste.
  5. Add the pigeon breasts to the other medium-hot pan and fry for a minute on one side. Add 50g of butter and the garlic clove and cook for a further minute on the other side.
  6. Remove the meat and allow to rest.
  7. Add spinach and rocket to the pan and allow to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve

  1. Place the greens in the middle of a plate and dress the outside with the toasted orzo.
  2. Slice the pigeon breasts in half, balance on top of the greens, and season with sea salt.
  3. Garnish with mustard leaves lightly dressed in rapeseed oil and sea salt. Enjoy!

Recipe by Thomas Elson-Knight

Head Chef

The Royal Oak, Meavy


Thomas Elon Knight. Head Chef at the Royal Oak in Meavy

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