Pigeon en croute with confit pigeon leg, celeriac purée and fondant potato

Show off this delicious game bird, here wrapped in puff pastry and served with creamy vegetables.


For the rough puff pastry
  • 250g/9oz white flour

  • pinch salt

  • 250g/9oz unsalted butter, frozen

  • 125ml/4fl oz ice-cold water

For the sauce
For the confit pigeon legs
For the celeriac purée
For the fondant potato
For the pigeon en croute
  • 4 pigeon breasts, skin removed

  • 125g/4½oz unsalted butter

  • 50g/2oz dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water until soft, drained, finely chopped

  • 2 onions, finely chopped

  • 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped

  • 75g/2½ oz fine chicken liver pâté

  • 8 large slices Parma ham

  • 2 free-range eggs, beaten

  • 50ml/2fl oz full-fat milk

For the Little Gem lettuce

Preparation method

  1. To make the rough puff pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Grate the frozen butter into the flour. Using your fingertips, gently mix the flour and butter adding the cold water bit by bit until the flour is all incorporated, but do not overwork it. The mixture should be soft and velvety and there should still be flecks of butter visible.

  2. Knead the dough quickly into a round ball, roll in cling film and rest in the fridge for a minimum of 40 minutes.

  3. Once rested, roll out the dough into a rectangle 10-15cm/4-6in wide and 20-25cm/8-10in long. Fold the ends of the rectangle into thirds as if you were folding a letter. Turn 90 degrees and roll out again. Repeat the folding and rolling out three more times. Then chill in the fridge for a further 15 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, for the sauce, bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan and reduce by two-thirds. Add the wine and thyme and simmer until reduced and thickened. Add the redcurrant jelly and stir until melted. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

  5. Strain into a clean pan. When ready to serve, reheat and whisk in a few knobs of cold butter until melted.

  6. For the confit duck legs, season the legs with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  7. Place the duck fat in a small saucepan with a lid. Heat over the lowest possible heat on the hob, or in an oven set to around 75C/140F. Place the pigeon legs into the fat and cook gently for around 30-40 minutes or until tender.

  8. For the celeriac purée, melt the butter into a medium saucepan. Add the celeriac and fry for around ten minutes until softened. Pour over the double cream and chicken stock and simmer for 20-25 minutes until soft.

  9. Drain the vegetables and purée in a blender until completely smooth. Pass it through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  10. For the fondant potato, using a round pastry-cutter cut the potatoes into 5cm/2in cylinders. Cut off the tops and bottoms to create flat ends.

  11. Melt the butter in a pan with the duck fat then fry the potatoes on the top and bottom until crisp. Add some chicken stock and reduce the heat, simmer for about 20 minutes.

  12. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

  13. For the pigeon en croute, season the pigeon breasts with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a frying pan over a high heat, quickly fry the breasts on both sides in a few knobs of the butter until just seared. Set aside to cool.

  14. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and onions and gently fry for 10-15 minutes, or until softened. Set aside to cool before stirring through the pâté with the chopped thyme.

  15. Lay two slices of Parma ham out overlapping each other. Spread a quarter of the cooled mushroom pâté mixture onto the Parma ham and place the pigeon breast on top. Then roll up into a cylinder. Repeat so you have four parcels.

  16. Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and roll out to the thickness of a pound coin. Cut out four 10cm/4in squares and brush on three sides with a beaten egg yolk. Place the pigeon roll in the middle at the dry end and roll up in the pastry to form a cylinder. Using the heel of your palm, gently squeeze down the ends as close as possible to the pigeon breast, pressing the pastry together to ensure a seal. Finally brush with beaten egg yolk and a dash of milk.

  17. Roast in the oven for 12 minutes for rare. Set aside to rest for 4-5 minutes.

  18. Melt the butter in a frying pan and gently fry the Little Gem lettuce for 3-4 minutes.

  19. To serve, place a spoonful of the celeriac purée onto one side of the plate. Slice the ends off the pastry parcel and then slice in half across the middle into two thick slices and place alongside the purée. Sit the confit pigeon leg up against the sliced pigeon and arrange the lettuce and potato on the other side. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of the sauce around the plate.

1-2 hours preparation time

1 to 2 hours cooking time

Serves 4

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