Wood pigeon is a very adaptable bird, you'll find it in the countryside and in cities. The only place you won't find them is in the mountains, and their characteristic cooing can be heard for miles.
Pigeons eat everything, such as grain, seeds, small animals and snails, but they especially like peas. This is why wood pigeon are often hunted in the vicinity of pea fields, which attract them.
The meat is relatively dark, with a quite mild flavor. Like all wild game, the taste varies depending on the season and what the bird has been eating.
Pigeons as food are wild and farmed. In both cases, the game flavor is quite intense.
Keep in mind
A wood pigeon weighs about half a kilo. One bird is often enough per portion.
The meat is dark but the flavor can be mild.
How to cook pigeon
Traditionally pigeon is served with light, elegant flavors: pears, grapes, Chablis, etc.
Fry pigeon breast and partner the mild game flavor with pears and port: Brown the pigeon breast in plenty of butter with garlic and sprigs of thyme. Put the meat in an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven at 150°C until the internal temperature reaches 52-54°C. Leave the pigeon to rest and serve with grilled pears and port wine sauce with star anise and balsamic vinegar.
Roast the pigeon whole in the oven at 170-180°C to an internal temperature of 70°C. Cover the flesh of the meat with fat in one form or other. The basics when roasting whole birds:
- Remove the giblets. Save the liver, heart and gizzard (e.g. for the sauce).
- Wipe the bird dry and remove any feathers with tweezers.
- Add fat under the skin, e.g. bacon and/or lard.
- Season on the outside and on the inside.
- Tie the bird into a neat shape for more even cooking.
- Juices run clear = completely cooked.
- Leave the meat to rest!
In France pigeon is often turned into a confit, i.e. cooked in fat, to do justice to the mild and delicious – but lean – meat.
You'll find more ideas for cooking wild fowl under.
Pigeon confit. Carefully cooking the lean meat of a pigeon in duck fat – for example – gives a juicy and delicious result.