Pigeon breast with pomegranates and red wine

John Burton-Race makes a rich, fragrant dish with fresh pomegranate seeds and a red wine sauce
By John Burton Race
Pigeon breast with pomegranates and red wine
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Effort: hard


For pigeon and sauce

  • 2 wild pigeons
  • 10 ml double cream
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 knob unsalted butter
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp redcurrant jelly
  • 2 juniper berries
  • 2 5cm strips of orange zest, peeled with a peeler
  • 1 sticks celery
  • 1 onion
  • 100 ml port
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 500 ml chicken stock


  • 1 ripe pomegranate
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp port

Tips and Suggestions

I like to serve this dish with a little celeriac or Jerusalem artichoke puree, some glazed carrots and some crisp potatoes maybe rissoles.


1. Remove the breasts from the pigeons and place them in a shallow heat proof dish.

2. Pour the cream over them and add one sprig of thyme, ¼ bay leaf and 1 clove of garlic peeled and finely chopped. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Place little knobs of butter over the pigeon breasts and reserve aside.

4. For the sauce chop the pigeon carcasses up into small pieces including the legs.

5. Heat a medium sized saucepan on the stove. Add the oil and when it starts to smoke add the pigeon bones.

6. Spoon over the red currant jelly and cook to caramelise.

7. Add the remaining ¼ bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme, juniper berries, garlic clove and orange zest.

8. Chop the celery, onion and carrot and add this to the pan.

9. Cook to colour the vegetables (approx. 10 minutes).

10. Pour in the port and reduce the liquid until evaporated.

11. Pour in the red wine and boil and reduce by half.

12. Add the mushrooms. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the sauce to the boil. Whilst boiling, skim off the surface scum and discard. Turn down the sauce to a rapid simmer and allow to cook for approximately forty minutes.

13. Strain the sauce first through a fine conical strainer then pour it through muslin (or a clean 'J' cloth) to trap all the congealed blood. Return the sauce to a small pan and reduce it to the required consistency ' when ready, it should coat the back of a spoon.

14. Place the pigeon breasts in cream under a hot grill and cook them for about 7 minutes, during this time the cream will crack and blend into butter. Turn them over half way during the cooking process.

15. For the garnish: add the water, sugar and port in a little pan and boil to make a syrup. When sticky, add the fleshy seeds of the pomegranate and cook for two minutes.

16. To serve remove the pigeon breasts from the tray and leave them to rest for 2 minutes.

17. Slice each breast in two and place them in the middle of the plate. Pour the red wine sauce around the pigeon. Sprinkle a spoonful of pomegranate garnish over the pigeon and serve.

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