To introduce this fine table bird, I turn to the great naturalist, Colin Willock: ‘The wood pigeon,’ he wrote, ‘is a delightful, handsome, highly edible, strong-flying and at times almost aerobatic bird.’

With the game-shooting season behind us, the March wood pigeon offers challenging sport. The flocks are big, easily spooked and supremely difficult to decoy, but worth the effort, especially to protect the work of our farmers.

Whether you get your birds through a bit of crop protection or from the butcher or game dealer, they deserve to be treated as the delicacies they are in the kitchen. As with many of our wild species, pigeons should be eaten pink to enjoy the fullest flavour.

Ingredients

1 pigeon per person
100g butter, softened
100g bitter chocolate
100g juniper berries

Method

Pluck and dress the bird for roasting whole and rub butter into the skin, then roast for about eight minutes at 200˚C. Leave to rest and then carve off the breasts.

The carcasses will make the basis of a good sauce, flavoured with bitter chocolate and juniper berries. Serve the pigeon in sauce with cabbage and bacon.