13 December 2008

Bird of 2008


Note the fairly small print - may contain shot. I found one while chopping them up and Lundulph found several during our dinner, possibly ate a few too. I bought 4 birds that were quite a bit smaller than I expected, comparing to the ones hanging around in our garden.

The recipe I decided to go for, after a fairly short research session was this one. Breast of wood pigeon with sweet potato rösti, buttered Savoy cabbage and red wine sauce. Quite a mouthful. It seemed fairly simple to do though and I didn't want to end up tired after a whole day's cooking.

I increased the amounts to what I thought would be 4 portions:


1 large sweet potato
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1 small Savoy cabbage
3 l water
40 g butter
10 sage leaves

4 pigeon breasts
3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
5 dl red wine
3 bay leaves
5 sprigs lemon thyme
10 juniper berries
salt and pepper

  1. If whole pigeons are used, wash and cut off the legs, wings and back and save for later. Pat the breasts dry with kitchen tissue.

  2. Peel and grate the sweet potato. Then place in a couple of layers of cheese cloth and squeeze out as much excess liquid. Do about a handful at a time, it's easier and gets more liquid out. Then mix with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

  3. Trim the outer leaves of the Savoy cabbage and wash. Cut in four and remove the stalks and shred it. Bring the water and salt to boil and put the shredded cabbage in and boil for 6-8 minutes, then drain.

  4. Place the sweet potato into an oven and hob proof pan and place on the hob on medium heat and fry for 6-8 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more olive oil, if it seems too dry. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 (200 degrees C). Move the pan to the middle of the oven and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.

  5. Heat up the oil and brown the pigeon breasts, then put in a pan and continue baking in the oven.

  6. Add a bit more oil into the pan where the pigeons were browned, press in the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the remainder of the sauce ingredients and simmer to reduce to half the volume, then strain.

  7. Just before serving, heat up the butter. Then add the sage and fry for about a minute until they start to wilt, then add the cabbage and stir well.


Now, I've had Rösti in Germany many years ago. It was made of regular potatoes, but I couldn't work out how it all stuck together - just grated potatoes. Same with the sweet potatoes, I couldn't get them to stick together and form a cake, so I gave up and stirred around, it had actually started to burn by the time I did this. Still it wasn't ruined, but turned out quite nice.

The pigeons were interesting to chop up - the original recipe called for breast thinly sliced and should I try this recipe again, I'll definitely try to fillet off the breasts. I ended up over-doing them and they tasted mostly like liver with a bit more texture than actual liver. I should have baked them at lower temperature as well and I probably kept them too long for browning as well.

The cabbage was nice, could have done with a bit more salt. The red wine sauce was very nice indeed. I think pigeon needs another chance, and less baking at lower temperature might give better results.

But I now have a new obsession - work out how to make proper rösti.

For dessert I made mille-feuille, also known as Napoleonbakelse in Sweden. Sadly I forgot to prepare the puff pastry and bought ready rolled one.

I used one packet of puff pastry - 375 g and made the créme mousseline.

Place the rolled out puff pastry on a baking sheet (line with parchment if necessary), prick with a fork, then place in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 220 degrees C, place a second baking sheet on top of the puff pastry and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Then remove the top sheet, turn down the heat to gas mark 3, 170 degrees and bake for further 5 minutes. The second baking sheet prevents the puff pastry from rising high. Once done, take out and leave to cool.

The cream I made turned out very runny, I should probably have put it in the fridge to make it stiffer.

Trim the edges of the puff pastry if necessary, then cut up in strips, about 5 x 10 cm size. Select the flattest nicest looking ones for the top layer.

Dust a plate with cocoa powder, place one puff pasty peace on top, spread some cream (or pipe), place a second puff pastry piece, then another layer of cream and finish with the nice piece of puff pastry.

Dust with icing sugar. Each layer of cream should be at least 1 cm thick.


Because the cream was so runny, everything squirted out and was mis-shapen. Generally in cafés, only one layer is proper créme mousseline, and the second layer is just whipped cream. This is always an annoyance with my Mum, it should be créme mousseline.

Also, if the pastry keeps its shape once you start eating it, there's something dodgy with it - probably gelatine or something similar. The créme should just be squeezed out between the layers and go all messy on the plate. Which is why I generally don't buy these pastries in cafés, I can't eat them in a dignified way.


Anonymous said...

We've been having an ongoing saga with rosti lately too, although we've not tried sweet potato so that may behave in a different way.

So far I've figured out the following:

Do not par boil the potatoes

Grate with as fine a grater as you can (I use a Microplane)

Keep on squeezing the water out through a tea towel, even when you think it's all gone

Mix the potato with onion (if you're using it) and add some melted butter to help with the sticking-together

Use plenty of butter for frying

Use a medium heat and cook it fairly slowly

When you turn the rosti, add plenty more butter to the pan before you put the rosti back in

After just a few minutes of cooking on the second side, put the pan in the oven

I still haven't completely mastered it but this produces something that looks like rosti and is edible!

Caramella Mou said...

Ooh, I definitely cheated on the squeezing out the liquid, I've no strength at all in my arms and gave up pretty quickly. A cider press would be useful, methinks.
Thanks for the tips Ginger, I'll definitely give it a go again.