Main course

Roast crown of pigeon with a leg meat pithivier

Many Internet-based cooking resources go to great efforts to simplify and demystify food preparation so that busy parents can knock up quick and healthy evening meals for their families. By their own admission, the producers of Great British Chefs set out to do the opposite of that. Rather than showcasing simple cuisine, the GB Chefs team provides resources for those who wish to match the technical skill of chefs cooking at the top of their profession.

GB Chefs leans on the expertise of a phalanx of accomplished British chefs (and Italian chefs for the Italian sister site). Among these is Andy McLeish of the Michelin-starred Chapter One restaurant in Locksbottom, Kent.

Andy McLeish, Chef Patron of Chapter One

Chef Andy has written a few recipes for GB Chefs, but the one that caught my eye was a fairly complicated, five-component weekend game dish of pigeon two ways. This recipe is all about getting as much done up front as you can. Make the pithiviers and the onion purée the day before. Do the kale the next morning, do the artichokes in the early afternoon, and then finish the whole thing up in time for Sunday dinner. There is a lot to do, but if you break it down, you will be fine.

We have adapted this recipe a tiny bit to alter the mise en place, and to ensure pithier styling success. The original can be found on the Great British Chefs web site.

Chapter One can be found at Farnborough Common, Locksbottom, Kent BR6 8NF, UK. Call +44 1689 854848 for bookings.

Roast crown of pigeon with a leg meat pithivier

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Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 2 hours


  • For the pithiviers:
  • 2 wood pigeons
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp of tomato purée
  • 50ml of sloe gin
  • 475ml of chicken stock
  • 1 savoy cabbage
  • 1 knob of butter
  • Thyme, chopped
  • 75ml of double cream
  • 8 puff pastry rounds, 10cm in diameter
  • 1 egg yolk to wash
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Neutral oil
  • For the onion purée:
  • 3 white onions, sliced
  • 1 knob of butter
  • Salt
  • For the creamed kale:
  • 400g of curly kale or cavil nero, blanched and chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 75ml of cream
  • 1 knob of butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Jerusalem artichokes:
  • 200g of Jerusalem artichoke, peeled and sliced lengthways
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 knob of butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the mushrooms:
  • 400g of girolles, cleaned
  • 1 knob of butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



Remove the legs from the pigeon and set aside. Cut the body into crowns and remove the wishbones – keep the crowns to one side until ready to serve.


Place a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium-high heat and add a drop of oil. Once hot, colour the legs until golden brown all over.


Add the carrot, 1 of the chopped shallots and 2 of the crushed garlic cloves and brown for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomato purée, stir to coat and deglaze the pan with the sloe gin. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer very slowly over a low heat with a cartouche on top. Cook until the legs are soft and can be pulled away from the bone, for approximately 1–1.5 hours.


Once the meat has cooked, strain off the liquid through a sheet of muslin into a clean pan, return to the heat and reduce to a sauce consistency. Season if necessary and reserve for later.


Flake the leg meat away from the bone and set aside. Meanwhile, remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, finely slice the paler inner leaves and blanch until tender. Refresh and squeeze out the excess water. You need about twice as much volume in squeezed cabbage as you have in meat.


Add a knob of butter to a pan and gently cook the chopped thyme, the remaining chopped shallot and crushed clove of garlic. Add the cream, reduce by half then add the leg meat and blanched cabbage. Season and set aside to cool.


Once cooled, separate into 4 equal portions and roll into balls. Place 4 of the pastry discs onto a baking parchment-lined tray and place the balls in the centre of each. Egg wash the outer edge and place the second disc over th top and stretch gently to cover and seal. Press the pastry around the ball until sealed, leaving a nice dome-like shape. Use a pastry cutter to cut around the pithiviers to tidy them up, and decorate the edge with the tines of a fork. Place the pithiviers in the fridge for 10 mins. Then wash them with the egg (taking care not to go over the edge of the seal or the rise will be inhibited), refrigerate again, and then score a design onto them. Refrigerate again until ready to cook.


For the onion purée, heat a knob of butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the sliced onions. Cook gently at first, stirring occasionally – do not colour the onions at this stage. Continue to cook until the onions are completely soft, then increase the heat. Once the onions start to colour, stir every few minutes to stop from burning and add a little salt. Once the onions are brown and the excess liquid has evaporated, remove from the pan and blend until smooth. Pass the purée through a sieve, place in a squeezy bottle and set aside.


For the kale, heat a knob of butter in a pan and sweat the garlic and shallot. Once soft, add the cream, reduce by half and add the blanched curly kale. Season to taste and set aside until needed – this can be made in advance and reheated.


Sauté the Jerusalem artichokes in a knob of butter until soft, then season with salt, pepper and a little lemon. Set aside for later.


Preheat the oven to 180°C.


Heat some oil in an ovenproof frying pan and sear the pigeon crowns all over until golden. Place the crowns in the oven (breast-side up) along with the pithiviers on a separate tray for 8–10 minutes – the pigeon should be cooked through but still pink in the middle, and the pithiviers should be golden-brown. You will need to cook the pithiviers a bit longer while the crowns are resting (5 mins) to achieve a good colour.


Finally, cook the girolle mushrooms. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a high heat and briefly sauté the mushrooms. Reheat the artichokes.


Reheat the sauce in a pan over a low heat. Carefully carve the breast meat from the crowns and arrange neatly on the plate with the artichokes, girolle mushrooms, curly kale and pithivier. Pour a little sauce over the pigeon and serve immediately.

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