Recipe: Squab pigeon with berry sauce and poached berries

Adare Manor's head chef Mike Tweedie — who recently won a first Michelin star — shares a recipe that makes something glorious from the humble pigeon.

Adare Manor’s head chef Mike Tweedie won a first Michelin star last month for his Oak Room restaurant at the Irish hotel and golf course. The whole place is a rather extraordinary no-expense-spared labour of love owned by local-boy-made-good JP McManus, and it now boasts the only restaurant in County Limerick with a Michelin star.

Last month Mike shared his strawberry dessert recipe with Country Life. This time, it’s a mouthwatering pigeon recipe that has a dauntingly-long list of ingredients  — but don’t be put off. All Mike’s steps are simple to follow and easily doable — the sauces take time but can be prepared in advance.


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Eight squab pigeon breasts (two per person)
  • 1/2 head radicchio pieces, cut small
  • Pigeon and elderberry sauce (see below)
  • Berry puree (see below)
  • Poached berries (see below)
  • Mustard or champ mash (to serve)

For the pigeon sauce

  • 500g pigeon carcasses chopped small
  • 250g button mushrooms sliced
  • 75g shallots sliced
  • 25g sherry vinegar
  • 370ml (1 Bottle) of Madeira — preferably “Blandy’s 5 year old”
  • 750 ml chicken stock
  • 250ml veal glace or beef stock
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • ½ head of garlic
  • 100ml unscented oil
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50ml cream
  • Pinch of salt

For the berry puree

  • 500g frozen or fresh berries (strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, blackberries)
  • 5g agar-agar
  • 50g sugar
  • 200g Wicklow berry wine
  • 3g citric acid

For the poached berries

  • 5 strawberries cut in half
  • 10 blackberries
  • 10 raspberries
  • 10 black currants
  • 200g Wicklow wine or fruit wine
  • 50g sugar

Method

For the pigeon sauce:

Place the oil into a roasting tray and heat on top of the stove, then add the pigeon and lightly colour. Add the butter and continue to colour.

Next add the shallots and garlic and lightly colour the shallots, then add the sliced button mushrooms and stir for five minutes.

Deglaze with the sherry vinegar and reduce to nothing, now add the Madeira and reduce by 2/3.

Add the chicken stock, veal glace (or beef stock), cream, peppercorns, thyme and a pinch of salt, bring to the boil, skim the scum and reduce to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Pass first through a colander and then chinoise.

Reduce to consistency, then season and and pass through chinoise again.

For the berry puree:

Bring berries, wine, sugar and citric acid to the boil, then add agar, cook for 1-2 minutes and chill. Once chilled, place in food processor and blend till smooth. Refrigerate in bottles till use.

For the poached berries:

Bring wine and sugar to the boil, add all berries expect raspberries, allow to cool, when ready to serve, warm the berries in the liquor — but do not boil — and and add the raspberries at the last minute.

Putting it all together:

Start by seasoning both sides of the breasts. Heat a good non-stick frying pan up with a little oil, lay the pigeon skin side down and fry till golden brown. Add a couple cubes of butter and baste the pigeon in foaming butter for 2 minutes, then flip the breast over and continue to baste for 2 more minutes.

Remove the pigeon breast from pan and allow to rest for four mins. While it does, start warming the berries and sauce, dress the radicchio in a basic vinaigrette or lemon juice and sea salt, scatter the poached berries around the plate with dots of puree.

Lay two breasts per plate, place radicchio on top of the bird and finish with the sauce. Enjoy with a nice bowl of mustard mash or champ mash.