Used as a bed for squab in this roast pigeon recipe, the butter beans will need to be soaked overnight. When in season, this dish from Bryan Webb looks great garnished with some skinned broad beans, or accompanied with some wild rice. Roast pigeon is a wonderful alternative to standard Sunday roasts. Learn more about how to roast a whole pigeon in our guide.
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Begin this pigeon recipe by preparing the butter beans. To cook the beans, put the drained, soaked beans in a saucepan of fresh water. Add the celery and bay and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours or until soft
300g of butter beans
1 head of celery
1 bay leaf
If the pigeons have not been gutted, remove and, but reserve the livers. Cut the feet but not all the way though: twist and pull and the feet will come off together with the sinew from the drumstick. Remove the wishbone and neck bones from each pigeon and keep to one side
4 squab pigeons
Finely chop the shallots and divide them between the four pigeon cavities. Put a bay leaf and sprig of thyme in each one too. Season the inside of the birds with salt and pepper and push a cocktail stick though the legs to secure
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
To make the sauce, roughly chop the shallots and fry them along with the pigeon scraps for a few minutes. Add the brandy and bring to the boil, then add the Madeira and white wine. Boil until reduced by half, then add the stocks and simmer for another 30 minutes
2 tbsp of olive oil
50ml of brandy
100ml of Madeira
100ml of white wine
Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan, return it to the boil and reduce until slightly thickened
Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas mark 7. Place the pigeons in a roasting tray, season with salt and pepper and spread the butter over the breasts. Once the oven is hot, roast the pigeons on their backs for 8 minutes. Baste with the buttery pan juices then turn the birds over so they are breast-down and continue cooking for a further 4 minutes for pink meat and 6-8 minutes for well done
Remove the pigeons from the oven and set aside on a warm tray to rest. Pour the fat away from the roasting pan then place it over a high heat. Use the sauce you have made to deglaze the roasting pan, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom. Strain the sauce back into a clean saucepan and set aside
To cook the mushrooms, heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the cleaned wild mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender. Season to taste. Meanwhile, reheat the butter beans and check the seasoning
150g of wild mushrooms
Remove the legs from the pigeons and return them to the oven to continue cooking for another 4 minutes while you carve the breasts (with wings attached) from the carcass
Reheat the butter beans and season with salt and pepper
To plate, arrange the beans and mushrooms on heated serving plates. Sit the pigeon breast portions on top and add the legs. Pour the sauce over and serve
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