Scallops with bacon and wild garlic

Serves 4 as a starter

Here, the wild garlic is almost like leaf spinach.

Ingredients

8 rashers of rindless streaky bacon, cut into 0.5cm pieces
A little olive oil for frying
A couple of good knobs of butter
12 medium-sized scallops, freshly shucked and cleaned
A handful of wild-garlic leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat a frying pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat in a little olive oil for 3-4 minutes until crisp, then remove from the pan and keep warm. Add a couple of knobs of butter to the pan you cooked the bacon in and heat until foaming, season the scallops and fry on a high heat for a minute
or so on each side until lightly coloured and just cooked. Remove from the pan and keep warm with the bacon. Wipe out the pan, add the rest of the butter and cook the wild garlic leaves for 30 seconds, stirring as they’re cooking and seasoning a little. To serve, arrange the wild garlic on warmed serving plates, place the scallops on top and scatter the bacon over.

Wood pigeon with spelt and wild garlic

Serves 4

Spelt can be used in place of rice to make a risotto-like dish.
I’ve wilted the wild-garlic leaves into it at the last minute.

Ingredients

4 oven-ready wood pigeons, legs removed
600ml-700ml chicken stock
80g butter
2 large shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
80g spelt, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of wild-garlic leaves

Method

Put the pigeon legs in a saucepan with the stock, bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 45 minutes, or until the legs are tender. Remove the legs and leave to cool. Pre heat the oven to 220˚/gas mark 7. Melt a knob of butter in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the shallots for
a couple of minutes, then stir in the spelt and continue cooking on a low heat for a minute or so.

Begin adding the stock in batches, ensuring that each addition has been absorbed before adding the next. Spelt takes a bit longer than rice to cook, so allow about 30 minutes. When the spelt is almost cooked, remove from the heat. Season the pigeon breasts, rub with a little butter and roast for 12-15 minutes, keeping them nice and pink, then remove from the oven and leave to rest.

Remove all the meat from the pigeon legs, add it to the spelt and return to the heat. Keep adding the stock until the spelt is cooked, then stir in the wild-garlic leaves and butter. The spelt should have a loose consistency, so add a little more stock if necessary.

Remove the breasts from the pigeon and cut them into three or four slices. Spoon the spelt onto warmed serving plates and arrange the pigeon on top.

Mark Hix’s ‘Seasonal Food’ is available from Quadrille at £25