Roasted pigeon, beetroot, fig and blue cheese

This roasted pigeon recipe sees the bird cooked in a variety of ways, with the breasts poached and the legs cooked in a crispy tempura batter. The salt-baked beetroot, fig hoisin sauce, blue cheese and walnuts make this a spectacular celebration of autumnal flavour.

First published in 2018




Marinated salt-baked beetroot

Pigeon legs

Spiced tempura

Spun yoghurt

Fig hoisin

Cumin caramel

Poached and roasted pigeon breast

Baby onion shells

  • 3 baby onions
  • 50g of white wine
  • 50g of sugar
  • 35g of white wine vinegar

Candied walnuts

  • 50g of walnuts
  • 50g of sugar
  • 100g of water

To serve


  • Mandoline
  • Sous vide equipment
  • Centrifuge
  • Deep-fryer
  • Squeezy bottle 2
  • Thermometer


8 days before you plan to serve the dish, prepare the beetroot. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
For the salt crust, add the egg whites, flour, water and salt to a stand mixer and mix with a paddle attachment until well-combined. Roll out onto a baking tray to about 1cm thick. Lay down a layer of fig leaves, then top with the beetroots. Top with 10 more fig leaves and top with the rest of the salt crust, making sure to seal well. Bake for 40 minutes, then leave in the crust for 24 hours
The next day, combine the beetroot purée, balsamic vinegar and fig leaf vinegar in a bowl. Remove the beetroots from the crust and peel. Cut into thin slices on a mandoline or meat slicer and transfer to a large vacuum bag. Add the beetroot marinade, seal with a chamber sealer and reserve in the fridge for 1 week
Preheat a water bath to 75°C
Next prepare the pigeon legs. Blend together the salt, garlic and thyme, then use the mixture to cover the legs. Set aside to cure for 30 minutes, then rinse with cold water and pat dry
Place in a vacuum bag with the duck fat and seal. Cook in the water bath for 4 hours, then refrigerate to set. Once set, carefully remove the thigh bones and cut into two pieces
Preheat an oven to 160°C/gas mark 3
To make the spice mix for the tempura pigeon legs, place the dried chillies, cumin seeds and pink peppercorns on a small baking tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, until aromatic. Blitz to a fine power in a spice grinder
Next prepare the tempura batter. Mix the cornflour and salt with the beaten eggs, and whisk until smooth. Once mixed add 2 tbsp of the spice mixture and set aside
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbsp of cornflour
  • 1/2 tbsp of salt
To prepare the yoghurt, place the yoghurt in a centrifuge container. Spin for 40 minutes until separated, then pour off the liquid and whisk the thickened yoghurt until smooth. Reserve in a squeezy bottle in the fridge
For the fig hoisin, heat the sugar in a pan over a medium heat until it forms a medium caramel. Deglaze with mirin, vinegar, chilli, garlic and soy. Reduce by a third, then stir in the fig purée and remove from the heat. Set aside
For the cumin caramel, combine the apple juice and cumin in a pan set over a high heat. Reduce until you are left with 70ml of caramel, then pass through a fine sieve and reserve in a squeezy bottle
To prepare the baby onion shells, peel the onions and cut in half through the roots. Bring the wine, sugar and vinegar to the boil, add the onions and poach for 5 minutes. Leave to cool, then separate into individual layers
  • 35g of white wine vinegar
  • 3 baby onions
  • 50g of white wine
  • 50g of sugar
Next prepare the candied walnuts. Bring the sugar and water to the boil, add the nuts and reduce until they are coated. Fry until golden brown, then drain and season with salt
  • 100g of water
  • 50g of walnuts
  • 50g of sugar
For the pigeon breasts, heat the chicken stock to 80°C. Poach the crowns in the stock for 3 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Heat a frying pan with a large knob of butter. Once foaming, add the crowns and brown all over, basing with the butter as you go. Cook until medium rare, then rest for 20 minutes
To serve, preheat a deep-fryer to 190°C
Roll the confit legs in the spice mix then dip in the tempura batter. Deep-fry, drain on kitchen paper then dip into the hoisin sauce
Drain the beetroot slices from the marinade and set aside ready for plating
When ready to serve, gently reheat the crowns in a warm oven or under a hot grill. Slice off the breasts and trim to neaten. Season with flakes of sea salt
Place a pigeon breast on the base of each plate and arrange the legs over the top. Add slices of beetroot. Dress the plate with the walnuts, onions, the cheese and the celery leaves. Add a few dots of yoghurt, drizzle with the apple caramel and serve

A broad range of experience in some of the top kitchens in the UK and France along with hefty doses of innovation, dedication and originality have led Daniel Clifford’s style to be widely praised.

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