Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Wood Pigeon, savoy cabbage and pancetta with date sauce

Inspired by a legendary dish at Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road restaurant this recipe uses wood pigeon, not those 'rats of the sky' that you'd find in Trafalgar Square before you get too squeamish. Wood pigeon are gamey delicious and in fact rather healthy and when put with cabbage and pancetta with a fruity sauce become rather moorish.

Serves 2

1 Wood pigeon, plucked of all feathers and innards removed

For the confit leg of pigeon

300ml Melted goose or duck fat
1 Bay leaf
Few sprigs of thyme
Half teaspoon rock salt
Half teaspoon black peppercorns

Date Sauce

Olive oil
500ml Red wine
3 Large shallots, sliced
1 Bay leaf
Few sprigs of thyme
125ml Dates, dried and pitted
200ml Chicken stock
200ml Beef stock
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
25g Butter

For the Cabbage

1 Small Savoy cabbage
100g Pancetta, diced into lardons
50ml Chicken stock

1. Preheat the oven to 150C. For the pigeon, take the breasts off the bone and remove the legs. Wrap the breasts in cling film and place in the fridge. Place the confit ingredients into a small ovenproof pan and add the pigeon legs, cover with wet greaseproof paper and place into the oven for 45-50 minutes.

2. For the date sauce, add a dash of olive oil to a saucepan and add the shallot's, sautee for 3-5 minutes until beginning to caramelise, add the pigeon carcass and once browned add the sherry vinegar, thyme and bay leaf. Once the sherry vinegar has evaporated add in the red wine and reduce on a high heat until the liquid has reduced by two thirds. Add the stock's and reduce again to the same level until the liquid coats the back of a spoon. Strain through a sieve into a clean pan and set aside.

3. Place the dates into a pan of boiling water and boil on a medium heat for 10-12 minuted until the dates are pulpy and easily pierced with a knife, drain and while still hot transfer to a food processor and blitz to a fine puree. Add back into the pan and slowly add the red wine sauce to create a slightly looser textured sauce, whisk in the butter and set aside keeping warm.

4. In a frying pan using no oil, place the pancetta cubes over a high heat and fry until crispy, shred the savoy cabbage and add to the pan, use the chicken stock to season the cabbage and fry until wilted but still with a little crunch. Remove the confit pigeon from the oven and increase the heat to 180C.

5. Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan over a high heat and season the pigeon breasts with salt and pepper, once the pan is smoking hot add the breasts skin-side down and fry for 1-2 minutes, turn over and fry for a further 1-2 minutes. Place in the oven for 5 minutes for medium meat or 3 minutes for medium-rare. Once removed from the oven leave to rest for 5 minutes.

6. To assemble, place a round pastry cutter or chefs ring into the centre of the plate, stack the cabbage mixture inside the ring and top with the confit leg and pigeon breast, dot the sauce around the stack and serve.

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