Pigeon, Jerusalem artichoke, smoked shallot

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If you want to know just how much work goes into a plate of food at Alchemilla, take a look at this exceptional pigeon dish. Absolutely nothing goes to waste from the pigeon – the hearts are brined, smoked and dried to make a seasoning, the bones make a stock, and the legs, wings and breast are all cooked in different ways before being served alongside a smoked shallot, braised cavolo nero and Jerusalem artichoke. If you're looking for a challenge, this is the dish for you.

First published in 2020




Smoked shallots

Pickled walnut ketchup

Pigeon sauce

Braised cavolo nero

Smoked pigeon heart

Sherry vinegar glaze

  • 250ml of sherry vinegar
  • 500g of liquid glucose

Jerusalem artichokes


  • Sous vide equipment
  • Mandoline
  • Catering grade cling film
  • Muslin cloth


Start by preparing the pigeon heart. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water by heating it in a saucepan. Allow to cool, then submerge the hearts in the solution for 2 hours in the fridge. Remove and reserve in the fridge until ready to smoke
Cut two of the shallots in half through the root, leaving the skins on. Season the cut sides, then char in a hot dry pan. Once nicely coloured, add the butter and chicken stock and simmer until tender all the way through. Set aside
Once the hearts are brined and the shallots are cooked, it's time to set up a smoking station. A hot-smoker for fish or a barbecue with a lid work well, but you could also use any metal lidded container with a griddle or rack in the middle. Put the hay in the container and the cooked shallots and brined hearts on the rack, then light the hay and put the lid over the top. Smoke the shallots and hearts for 10 minutes, then re-light the hay and smoke for another 10 minutes. Reserve the shallots in the fridge and move to the next step for the pigeon hearts
  • 100g of hay
Dry out the pigeon hearts – either in a dehydrator or a low oven – at 60ºC for about a day. You should be left with completely dry hearts – these are used as a seasoning later
When you've finished preparing the pigeon hearts, you're ready to prepare the rest of the dish. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. For the pigeon sauce, roast the pigeon bones in the oven with the butter (add the butter little by little as the bones colour) for 15 minutes until the bones are nicely roasted and golden brown. Remove one-third of the bones from the pan at this point and reserve in the fridge for later
Add the sliced shallots, garlic and thyme to the roasting bones. Continue to cook until the mixture is nicely caramelised, then pass through a sieve to remove the butter
Place the roasted bones and aromatics in a saucepan. Add the white wine and reduce by half over a medium heat, then add the chicken stocks and simmer for 1.5 hours
  • 250ml of white wine
  • 1l white chicken stock
  • 1l brown chicken stock
Meanwhile, you can prepare the pigeon legs and wings. Bone out the main thigh bone in each of the four legs (retaining the drumstick if possible) and bone out the wings. Season and roll each leg and wing into a cylinder using catering grade clingfilm, securing firmly at each end. Bring a pan of water or a water bath to 85ºC and poach the wings and legs for 1.5 hours
To make the pickled walnut ketchup, start by blending all the ingredients together. Bring the mixture to a boil in a pan, then set it in the fridge. Add it back into the blender, blend again on full power until smooth, then pass it through a fine sieve and reserve in a squeezy bottle until ready to plate
To make the sherry vinegar glaze, reduce the sherry vinegar by half in a pan, then add the glucose and combine thoroughly. This will make more than you need but it's hard to make in a smaller quantity and it's great brushed on other meat, fish and vegetables
  • 250ml of sherry vinegar
  • 500g of glucose
Once the sauce has been simmering for 1.5 hours, pass it through a fine sieve and reduce until it's nice and glossy (but be careful not to over-reduce). At this point, add the reserved pigeon bones from the fridge back into the sauce and remove from the heat. Leave to infuse for 30 minutes then pass through a muslin cloth and reserve until ready to plate
To make the cavolo nero, sweat the shallots in a splash of oil, then add the garlic, peppercorns and balsamic vinegar
Reduce the vinegar to a syrup then add the cabbage and a splash of the pigeon sauce. Cook the cabbage under a cartouche until the cabbage is tender and the sauce is glossy – about 20 minutes – then stir in the butter. Set aside to reheat later
Peel the artichokes into nice barrel shapes and fry off in a splash of vegetable oil, then cook gently in foaming butter until tender. Finish by brushing with a little bit of Marmite
Bring a deep pan of oil to 150°C. Thinly slice the remaining 2 shallots, on a mandoline if possible, and deep-fry until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and season
  • vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 150ºC/gas mark 2. Colour the pigeon crowns in a pan with a dash of vegetable oil for 10 seconds, then roast in the oven for 8 minutes and rest for 5 minutes before carving
  • 2 large pigeons, legs and wings removed from the crown and reserved
  • vegetable oil
Remove the skins from the smoked shallots, then warm through in the oven and cover with the fried shallots and chopped chives
Sear the cooked pigeon legs and wings on a barbecue or in a hot pan, then glaze with the sherry vinegar glaze. Grate the smoked pigeon heart over the top of the leg
Plate each of the individual items listed above, along with a quenelle of the braised cavolo nero and a dollop of pickled walnut ketchup. Carve the breasts off the pigeon crowns and removing the false fillets from the underside – drape the false fillets over the cavolo nero and plate one breast on each plate. Finish with the pigeon sauce

After working with the likes of Sat Bains and Richard Turner, Alex Bond is blazing his own trail at Alchemilla in Nottingham, where his innovative dishes have made him one of the most exciting chefs in the country.

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