Friday, 19 March 2010

Jack Spratt's Pigeon Salad

One of the current food issues which excites a lot of debate is lean meat versus fatty meat.  People watching their weight and cholesterol levels will choose the former and those who prize taste and succulence above all will tend to choose the latter.  For it is often fat that has more flavour than flesh and it is the fat in a marbled piece of beef for instance that will provide juiciness.  
However, there is a third type of meat which is lean AND tasty, AND succulent if cooked correctly, and that meat is game.  We don't eat enough game in this country and yet game is plentiful, if often seasonal, and usually cheap.  
Wood Pigeons are one of England's most common game birds.  The breasts are often sold separately, like chickens', the rest of the bird being quite bony but handy for making stock.  Because they are lean the breasts should be served pink to retain moisture: cooked well done they are dry and tough.  They have a moderately strong, sometimes slightly livery taste, and I love them. It takes about 2 minutes, if that, to cook them in a hot frying pan. Do them in the oven and it's all too easy to overcook.
This warm pigeon salad took about five minutes to prepare.  For wine, a slightly rustic Pinot Noir would go well, nothing too fancy.  And you can have an extra glass smug in the knowledge that you've barely consumed any saturated fat.  Even Jack Spratt's wife might have been impressed.

the pigeon breasts were bought at the Friday Street Farm Shop and came from The Wild Meat Company (recommended by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall), the Merlot vinegar was bought at Emmett's (a Rick Stein Food Hero), and the salad leaves were bought at the Aldeburgh Market Shop, all excellent sources of delicious, mainly local food

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