Pigeon always works well in a salad, but particularly when it is Michelin-starred chef approved. Try Michael Caines' salad of woodpigeon, mangetout and hazelnuts

Michelin-starred chef approved pigeon is absolutely guaranteed to impress. Try Michael Caines’ salad of woodpigeon, mangetout and hazelnuts – suitable for supper parties all year round.

Pigeon is lean, sustainable, inexpensive and delicious. We should all be making use of this super meat, but top chefs are ahead of the curve. Pigeon is no stranger to the menus of some of our best restaurants. Ewan Davy finds out why professional chefs are championing pigeon, in why we should cook pigeon, the chef’s favourite. And for even more Michelin-starred pigeon, try Michel Roux’s pigeon roti et petits pois a la Française.

MICHAEL CAINES’ SALAD OF WOODPIGEON, MANGETOUT AND HAZELNUTS

This recipe is taken from Michael Caines at Home.

This is a lovely salad that’s good all year round. The pigeon breasts are marinated to add flavour and tenderise them, and the salad is a great combination of flavours, with the freshness of the apple and the crunch and texture from the mangetout and caramelised hazelnuts.

Serves 4

  • 4 woodpigeon breasts
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Hazelnut vinaigrette
  • 80g mangetout

For the garlic chips:

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 Cox’s apples, peeled and diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mixed baby salad leaves
  • Mixed fresh herbs, such as chervil, chives, marjoram
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • Caramelised hazelnuts

Marinate the woodpigeon breast at least 6 hours in advance.

First you need to marinate the breasts: to do this, remove the skin and place the breasts in a deep tray. Cover with olive oil and add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and put into the fridge overnight to marinate.

For the garnish,  cook the mangetout in boiling water, then drain and refresh in iced water. Drain again, then pat dry, slice into thin strips (julienne) and set aside.

To make the garlic chips, slice the garlic cloves thinly, using a mandolin or sharp knife, and place in a pan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, drain and refresh. Repeat twice more, then drain and pat dry.

Heat vegetable oil to 140°C in a deep-fat fryer and fry the garlic until golden brown.

Peel the apples and chop into 5mm dice.

For the woodpigeon, remove the pigeon breasts from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Heat a griddle pan and cook the breasts for 2 minutes, then turn them clockwise
by 90 degrees and leave for a further 2 minutes. Now flip them over and repeat.

Remove them from the pan (they will be medium rare) and leave them to stand for about 5 minutes.

To serve, dress the mangetout with a little of the hazelnut vinaigrette and arrange on serving plates. Toss the apples with more of the vinaigrette.

Put the salad and herbs into a bowl with the chopped shallots and dress with the vinaigrette. Pile the salad in the middle of the plate, on top of the mangetout, then place the pigeon breasts on top, scatter the apple dice and hazelnut mixture around the plate and finish with the garlic chips.