Our lovely friends Viki and Charlie treated us to a weekend away in Suffolk because we got married last year. They invited us to join them for an action-packed few days of food, fun and even more food. Over the course of a long weekend, we drank wine, played games and watched shooting stars while lounging next to an enormous fire in the garden.
First of all, the four of us ventured out to The Dolphin in Thorpeness for dinner. Decorated with scores of tiny paned windows and set within a simple country garden, it’s easy to see why the pub is one of our friends’ favourite places to while away time.
We ordered several starters to share and as a result, we managed to try most of the menu. My favourite dish was almost certainly the seared pigeon breast because it was just so gamey and delicious. We were presented with an appetising plate of perfectly pink pigeon breast pieces on top of a mound of wilted cavolo nero, smokey lardons and roasted chestnuts, circled with a sticky balsamic syrup.
Simple pigeon recipe: seared pigeon breast
I’ve not cooked with pigeon before, but due to our trip to the Dolphin in Thorpeness, I was inspired to give it a go. Fortunately, it turns out that it’s not so tricky. Because the pigeon breasts are quite small, it only takes 2-3 minutes to pan fry per side, depending on how pink you want it. During my first attempt, I left the meat in the pan for too long and so it became a little tough. Consequently, you need to keep a close eye on things if you’re looking to achieve pink perfection.
Likewise, the rest of the dish takes no time at all to prepare, but you don’t need to let your guests know that! With plenty of cavolo nero and smoked lardons, this simple pigeon recipe makes a generous starter. In fact, there’s almost enough for a light lunch or meaty main course. Depending on your appetite, a side of grains, new potatoes or creamy potato dauphinoise will probably suffice for most people.
Try my seared pigeon breast recipe, inspired by the Dolphin in Thorpeness
A simple pigeon recipe, inspired by The Dolphin in Thorpeness, UK.
- 250 ml vegetable stock (optional)
- 3 handfuls cavolo nero
- 25 g salted butter
- 100 g smoked lardons
- 6 pigeon breasts
- 3 tbsp cooked chestnuts
- A drizzle of balsamic glaze
Boil the cavolo nero in a large pan of vegetable stock for 10 minutes. The stock gives the leaves a little bit more flavour, but you can just use tap water if you prefer.
Soften the butter in a large saucepan until melted and add the lardons, frying over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until lightly brown around the edges.
Add the pigeon breasts and chestnuts to the pan with the lardons and cook for about 4-6 minutes. Remember to turn the pigeon breasts over after 2-3 minutes. Remove the pigeon from the pan after 4-6 minutes, to rest for a minute or two.
Pour the cavolo nero through a colander to remove the liquid and leave to the side for a few seconds until dry. Add to the pan with the lardons and chestnuts and mix up until the leaves are covered with the mixture.
Place the cavolo nero mixture in the centre of a plate and drizzle the balsamic around the plate in a series of 3-4 random circles. Finally, place the pigeon breasts on top of the cavolo nero mountain and serve.