Bring back the savoury course with Philippa Davis' dried fig, pigeon breast and smoked bacon skewers on toast. A simple recipe that can be made ahead of a supper party

During the Golden Era of fieldsports, dinners wouldn’t end with a pudding or cheeseboard. Instead, a savoury course was brought out – to aid digestion and invigorate the diner’s palate for more drink. Bring back this forgotten course with Philippa Davis’ modern alternative. Try dried fig, pigeon breast and smoked bacon skewers on toast, an easy recipe to make ahead of a supper party.

Today the savoury course is usually served as canapes. For more moreish morsels try one of our favourite recipes, pheasant samosas.


The idea of serving a savoury course was probably more appealing when you had a house full of staff, as it is not much fun dashing back to the kitchen at that stage of the evening to do yet more cooking.

All these recipes are designed to be made ahead and easily finished at the last minute. For this recipe, make sure you use fresh, plump pigeon breasts.

  • 4 pigeon breasts, each cut into 4 strips
  • 2 tsp finely chopped thyme
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 dried figs, cut in half
  • 3 tbsp cognac or brandy
  • 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut in half vertically
  • 3-4 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 16 tooth picks

To serve

  • 4 pieces of toast, crusts off, each cut into 4 small squares
  • 16 small sprigs watercress

Season the pigeon slices then marinate in the thyme, balsamic, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil for 1 hour.

Soak the figs in cognac for 1 hour.

Lay the bacon strips out and spread them with a thin layer of mustard.

Place a slice of pigeon inside the fig and wrap the bacon around it.

Secure with a tooth pick and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest then store in the fridge.

To cook, Preheat the grill to high. Grill for about 8 minutes, turning once.

Place on a warm piece of toast with a few leaves of watercress.