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10 Wood Pigeon Breast Recipes and Serving Suggestions

Gordon has been cooking and experimenting with food since childhood. He loves coming up with new and tasty culinary creations.

This attractive wood pigeon salad is just one of the recipes you will find contained on this page.

This attractive wood pigeon salad is just one of the recipes you will find contained on this page.

Wood pigeon is a sub-species of the wider pigeon genre and the type of pigeon most commonly shot, cooked and eaten. It is a relatively dark meat game bird with a rich and moderately powerful, exciting flavour. It can be cooked in a great many different ways but because it is so lean, it has to be cooked in a fashion that will not cause the meat to become tough and unpalatable. It must also be rested for at least five minutes following pan frying for the same reason. This page is devoted to looking at how to cook specifically wood pigeon breast fillets, where almost all of the meat on the bird is to be found.

The breasts are removed from the pigeon crowns with a filleting knife.

The breasts are removed from the pigeon crowns with a filleting knife.

The wood pigeons featured on this page were all locally shot and cleaned/crowned immediately after shooting. Although some were used at the time, most were frozen, either still on the crown or with the breast fillets removed.

The fillets should always be removed with a dedicated filleting knife in order to remove them clean and whole from the bone without damaging the very delicate flesh. It should also be carefully noted that where the crowns or breasts have been frozen they should be fully defrosted before being cooked, ideally in a suitable dish in the fridge overnight.

Pigeon breasts are simply served with poached fresh duck eggs

Pigeon breasts are simply served with poached fresh duck eggs

1. Pigeon Breasts With Poached Duck Eggs

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 10 min

Ready in: 20 min

Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless pigeon breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 duck eggs, as fresh as possible
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar*
  • 1 spring onion/scallion, trimmed and finely sliced, to garnish

*The vinegar in the poaching water helps the albumen of the eggs wrap around the yolk. While virtually any vinegar can be used, white wine vinegar does not produce the same unpleasant smell as stronger vinegars such as malt are inclined to produce.

Instructions

  1. Pour a little oil into a frying pan or skillet and bring it up to high heat.
  2. Season the pigeon breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and fry over moderately high heat for 3 minutes each side.
  3. While the pigeon is frying, break the duck eggs carefully into two small drinking glasses or ramekins (this makes them much easier to pour into the poaching water). Add a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar to a couple of inches of water in a saucepan and put the pan on to a heat to reach a gentle simmer.
  4. When the pigeon is done, lift to a small holding plate, cover with foil and leave for 5 minutes to rest.
  5. With the water in the pan barely simmering, carefully but smoothly pour the eggs one at a time into opposite sides of the pan, with the lip of the glass almost but not quite coming down to touch the water. Adjust the heat to just maintain the gentlest of simmers for 4 minutes.
  6. Lift the pigeons to a serving plate and use a slotted spoon to lift the eggs one at a time from the poaching water to be arranged alongside.
  7. Season the eggs with a little salt and scatter over the slices of spring onion/scallion to garnish.
Pigeon breasts are thinly sliced and served with spicy salsa and homemade mini flatbreads.

Pigeon breasts are thinly sliced and served with spicy salsa and homemade mini flatbreads.

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2. Wood Pigeon and Spicy Salsa Flatbreads

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 10 min

Ready in: 40 min

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces / 200g / 1 cup plain or all-purpose flour
  • 3½ fl oz / 100g / just under ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil, plus extra for frying pigeon breasts
  • Salt
  • 2 or 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 spring onions/scallions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium size and strength red chilli
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper
  • 4 pigeon breasts
  • Butter

Instructions

  1. Put the flour, water, vegetable oil and pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until a moderately stiff dough is formed. If the dough is too dry or too wet, add a very small amount water or flour and mix until the desired consistency has been achieved.
  2. Lightly flour a clean, dry surface and knead the dough well for a couple of minutes before returning it to the mixing bowl, covering and setting aside to rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Wash and dry the tomatoes and spring onions/scallions. Cut the tomatoes in half, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard. Moderately finely dice and add to a clean mixing bowl.
  4. Peel any loose/tarnished leaves from the onions and trim. Finely slice into discs and add to the bowl with the tomatoes.
  5. Peel and finely dice the garlic clove before adding it to the bowl, along with the seeded and finely diced chilli. Season with salt and black pepper, pour in the extra virgin olive oil, stir well, cover and set aside.
  6. Season the pigeon breast fillets and fry for 3 minutes each side until done. Remove from pan, cover and set aside to rest.
  7. Bring a large metal skillet up to very high heat.
  8. Roll the rested dough into a ball, flatten slightly on a lightly floured surface and cut into eight equal segments.
  9. Lightly roll each segment into a ball between the palms of your hands before rolling out on the floured surface with a rolling pin to discs about three to four inches in diameter.
  10. Fry the flattened breads for 2 minutes on the first side and one and a half minutes on the second side (you will have to do this in two or three batches). As soon as they are taken from the pan, lay on a plate and lightly spread with butter.
  11. Lay the pigeon breasts on a chopping board and thinly slice at an acute angle. Divide the slices between two small ramekins.
  12. Fill two ramekins with the salsa mix and plate four flatbreads with a ramekin each of pigeon and salsa on a plate to serve.
Cold pigeon breast flakes and goat cheese in a mixed leaf salad

Cold pigeon breast flakes and goat cheese in a mixed leaf salad

3. Pigeon and Goat Cheese Green Leaf Salad

Cook Time

Prep time: 9 min

Cook time: 6 min

Ready in: 15 min

Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 2 pigeon breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Generous handful mixed green leaf salad
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 ounces goat cheese

Instructions

  1. Season the pigeon breasts with salt and pepper and fry in a little vegetable oil in a hot pan for 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate, cover with foil and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Wash the salad leaves and tomato and shake dry.
  3. Cut the tomato in half, down through the core, then cut each half into three or four segments. Add to a large mixing bowl with the salad leaves, season with salt and pepper and lightly toss by hand.
  4. Slice the goat cheese to about a quarter inch thickness then chop each slice into three or four segments. Add to the bowl with the salad.
  5. Sit the pigeon breasts one at a time on a chopping board and holding one end steady with a fork, slice as finely as possible at a 45-degree angle with a very sharp carving knife.
  6. Add the pigeon to the bowl with the salad and stir/fold gently with a wooden spoon before plating to serve.
Pigeon breasts with simple Madras curry sauce is served on a bed of turmeric and garlic rice

Pigeon breasts with simple Madras curry sauce is served on a bed of turmeric and garlic rice

4. Wood Pigeon, Curry Sauce and Turmeric Rice

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 20 min

Ready in: 25 min

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces (1¼ cups) long grain brown rice*
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • Salt
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus extra for frying pigeon)
  • 2 teaspoons medium hot Madras curry powder
  • 1 (8-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in tomato sauce
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and grated
  • Black pepper
  • 4 pigeon breasts

*Cooking requirements for rice will vary and the specific instructions should always be checked on the relevant packet.

Instructions

  1. Add 2 teaspoons of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of salt into a large pot of cold water, stir well and put the pot on to high heat until the water starts to boil.
  2. Rinse the rice in a sieve under running cold water before carefully adding to the boiling water. Stir well and reduce the heat to achieve a moderate simmer for 20 minutes (or per instructions on packet), stirring occasionally.
  3. As soon as the rice is on to cook, pour a couple of tablespoons of oil into a medium pot and bring up to moderately high heat. Peel and finely slice the onion and add to the heated oil with the curry powder. Reduce the heat and stir fry/saute for a few minutes until the onion is softened.
  4. Pour the tomatoes into the onion, season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.
  5. Season the pigeon breasts and fry in a little oil for 3 minutes each side until done. Remove to a plate, cover and leave to rest.
  6. Drain the rice well through a sieve at your sink and return to the empty pot. Allow to steam off for a couple of minutes before seasoning with black pepper and stirring well.
  7. Divide the rice between two serving plates and lay two pigeon breasts on top of each serving. Spoon the curry sauce over the breasts to serve.
Pan-fried pigeon breasts with homegrown vegetable salad and duck egg

Pan-fried pigeon breasts with homegrown vegetable salad and duck egg

5. Fried Pigeon Breasts With Garden Vegetable Salad

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 8 min

Ready in: 18 min

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 duck eggs (5 to 7 days old)*
  • 4 pigeon breast fillets
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 8 angled, ¼ inch thick slices from (English) cucumber
  • 1 small to medium chioggia beetroot, peeled and sliced to ¼ inch thickness (8 slices needed)
  • Small piece white turnip, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 teaspoons hot horseradish sauce

*Fresh eggs do not hard boil well, so use eggs at least 5 days old.

Instructions

  1. Put the eggs into a pot with enough cold water to ensure they are comfortably covered and put the pot on to high heat until the water reaches a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady, moderate simmer for 6 minutes.
  2. Pour a little oil into a frying pan or skillet and bring up to high heat before adding the seasoned pigeon breast fillets and frying over moderately high heat for 3 minutes each side.
  3. Cut the tomato in half by making half-inch long cuts at alternate 45-degree angles around the central circumference. Each cut should go right to the core. The tomato should then easily twist into two halves with spiked rims. Scoop out the seeds and pulp with a teaspoon and discard.
  4. Sit a tomato half in the centre of each of two square plates, cup up, and spoon in enough white turnip to fill. Season with a little salt.
  5. Cut the central seeds from the cucumber slices very carefully with a sharp knife to leave holes on which the egg halves and pigeon breasts can be balanced. Sit one in the corner of each plate.
  6. Lay a slice of beetroot in the middle edge of each plate.
  7. Sit the pot containing the duck eggs under running cold water for a couple of minutes before carefully cracking the shells and peeling. Cut each in half lengthways and sit a half yolk side up on two diagonally opposite slices of cucumber on each plate. Season with a little salt.
  8. Lay two rested pigeon breasts on top of the remaining cucumber slices and top each with a little horseradish sauce before serving.
Fried pigeon breast portions are served on quenelled mustard and chilli mash with dwarf beans and spicy tomato sauce.

Fried pigeon breast portions are served on quenelled mustard and chilli mash with dwarf beans and spicy tomato sauce.

6. Pigeon Breasts With Chilli and Mustard Mash

Note: The mash and chilli tomato sauce prepared as part of this recipe are prepared in sufficient quantities that the leftovers may be incorporated in the recipe that follows for Chilli and Mustard Wood Pigeon Cakes.

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

Ready in: 30 min

Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • Salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely grated
  • ½ teaspoon (or as desired) hot chilli powder
  • Black pepper
  • 2 pigeon breast fillets
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 8 to 10 dwarf/French beans, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard
  • 1 small red chilli, seeded and finely diced

Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and chop to around 1 1/2-inch chunks. Add to a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until just softened.
  2. Pour the canned tomatoes into a small saucepan and add the garlic, chilli powder and some salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until reduced and thickened.
  3. Fry the seasoned pigeon breasts in a little oil over medium to high heat for 3 minutes each side before removing to a plate, covering and leaving to rest.
  4. When the potatoes have been simmering for about 10 minutes, bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil and add the trimmed beans to simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Drain the potatoes through a colander in your sink and return to the empty pot. Leave to steam off and dry out for a few minutes before mashing with a hand masher (do not use a blender/food processor, as this creates pomme puree and provides entirely the wrong consistency). Stir in the mustard and chopped chilli with a wooden spoon.
  6. Drain the beans also through a colander at your sink.
  7. Use two dessert spoons to make four potato quenelles and carefully place one at each corner of a square serving plate, arranging the beans in the middle.
  8. Cut the pigeon breasts in half at an angle and sit one half on top of each of the quenelles.
  9. Place a teaspoon of chilli sauce on each side of the plate before serving.