Mark Greenaway Recipe: Wood Pigeon, Liver Parfait

Perthshire Wood Pigeon, 'Cherry Gel, Liver Parfait, 'Toasted Hazelnuts. Picture: Paul Johnston

Perthshire Wood Pigeon, 'Cherry Gel, Liver Parfait, 'Toasted Hazelnuts. Picture: Paul Johnston

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We are heading into the best time of year for wood pigeon.

These plump birds are available at game dealers, farmers’ markets and even some supermarkets. Wood pigeons spend the summer grazing on corn and cereal crops so by late August they should have a nutty and sweet flavour.

This week I am sharing my recipe for Perthshire wood pigeon, cherry gel, liver parfait and toasted hazelnuts. Cherries are to pigeon what orange is to duck. The sweetness of the fruit marries perfectly to the bird’s rich flavour.

To balance this dish even further, I add an optional extra. I serve it with cubes of pickled beetroot. The sharpness of the beetroot cuts through the richness of the pigeon and sweetness of the cherry.

Ingredients

Serves 4

For the chicken liver parfait

250g chicken livers

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

75g butter

2 measures of brandy

125ml double cream

For the cherry gel

200g cherry purée

100g caster sugar

1 star anise

For the pigeon

4 wood pigeon breasts

A drizzle of rapeseed oil

50g butter

1 stalk of rosemary

1 clove of garlic, crushed

2 star anise

For the hazelnuts

1 handful of hazelnuts, skins removed

A drizzle of rapeseed oil

A generous pinch of Hebridean sea salt

To garnish

4 cherries, destoned

Cubes of pickled beetroot

Method

For the chicken liver parfait

Ask the butcher to fully prepare your chicken livers making sure they remove all of the sinew. Cut the livers in half. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and sweat gently. Turn up the heat, add the livers and sear for a couple of minutes until browned on the outside but pink inside. Add the brandy but be careful as this will flame.

Add the cream. Blend in a food processor until the mix is smooth and lump free. Season with salt to taste. Pour into a small bowl. Press cling film onto the mix and chill for 1 hour.

For the cherry gel

Reduce the cherry purée by half. In a separate non-stick pan make a light caramel with the sugar. Deglaze the caramel with the cherry purée and add the star anise. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat. Leave to infuse for 1 hour and pass through a fine chinois or sieve

For the pigeon

Heat a non-stick pan to a medium-high heat. Place the pigeon breasts in the pan skin side down with a drizzle of rapeseed oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. Add the butter, rosemary, garlic and star anise. Turn the pigeon over. Cook the butter to a nut brown while basting over the skin of the pigeon. Remove from the heat and allow the pigeon to rest in the pan for 4 minutes

For the hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 185C. Place the hazelnuts on a tray and lightly drizzle with rapeseed oil and the Hebridean sea salt. Place in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Plate this dish as per the image or get creative and come up with your own presentation.