The pigeon breasts are wrapped up in prosciutto with mushrooms and a chicken cream, and poached before being pan-fried.
2 French Bresse pigeons, with livers
200g/7oz duck fat
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small chicken breast
100ml/3½fl oz double cream
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 medium field mushrooms, trimmed
12 slices of prosciutto
1-2 tbsp olive oil
For the cabbage, place the cabbage into a non-reactive pan with the sugar, malt vinegar and vegetable stock. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cover with a piece of buttered greaseproof paper and a piece of foil. Place over a low heat and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally.
Preheat a water bath to 75C/165F, or heat a pan of water to the same temperature, checking with a digital thermometer.
For the potatoes, slice the potatoes to a thickness of a pound coin and use a 2cm/1in cylindrical cutter to cut out circles of potato. Place the potato pieces into a re-sealable freezer or sandwich bag and add the stock, milk, butter and thyme. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then seal the bag. (You can wrap the bag in an extra layer of cling film if you are worried about its contents leaking during cooking).
Gently place the bag of potatoes into the water bath and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Set aside until ready to serve.
For the pigeon, remove the legs from the pigeon and place into a pan with the duck fat, garlic and thyme. Cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the pigeon legs are tender. Remove from the fat and carefully remove the bones, keeping the meat as whole as possible. Set the bones aside for the sauce. Just before serving, fry the pigeon legs in a bit of oil to crisp up the skin.
Remove and discard the skin from the pigeon breasts and carve the flesh away from the bones. Remove the liver from the carcasses and set both aside.
Roughly chop the chicken breast and place into a food processor along with the cream. Blend until smooth, then fold in the chopped chives and parsley and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Melt the butter in a frying pan until foaming, then add the field mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until tender.
Place four sheets of cling film on a work surface and lay three slices of prosciutto over each, overlapping the slices slightly. Place a pigeon breast over the prosciutto, then spread over the chicken mousse. Top with one mushroom each, then, using the cling film to guide you, roll up the ingredients with the prosciutto. Cover the rolls with the cling film and twist the ends to seal. Place into the fridge to set for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the vegetable oil over a high heat in a large pan, add the pigeon bones and carcasses and brown all over, then add the shallots, garlic and thyme. Fry for about 2-3 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the port, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until the port has reduced to a sticky consistency, then add the veal stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced to a sauce consistency.
Pass the sauce through a fine sieve, discarding the solids, and return to a clean pan. Whisk in a cube of cold butter until glossy. Keep warm, and stir in the chopped fresh chives just before serving.
For the pigeon, place the prosciutto-wrapped pigeon breast into a pan of boiling water and gently poach for 6-8 minutes, or until the pigeon is cooked but still slightly pink in the middle. Remove from the water and set aside to cool for a few minutes before removing the cling film.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and fry the prosciutto-wrapped pigeon breast for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown all over. Remove and set aside to rest.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan and fry the reserved pigeon livers for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown and slightly pink in the middle. Remove from the pan and set aside for five minutes before slicing.
For the pâté croutons, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the shallots for 1-2 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. Add the chicken livers and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown all over but still slightly pink in the middle.
Deglaze the pan with the Madeira and brandy, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until the liquid has reduced to a sticky consistency and glazes the livers. Crush the livers to form a rough pâté. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For the spinach, blanch the spinach in a pan of boiling water for one minute, then drain and fry in some butter for another minute. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve, divide the spinach between four serving plates. Slice each pigeon breast into three and place on the plates, followed by the confit pigeon legs. Spoon the fried pigeon livers next to the legs, followed by the braised cabbage and potatoes. Finally spread the pâté onto the crouton and sprinkle with chives. Drizzle the sauce around the plate.
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