Wood pigeon with spicy chocolate sauce and roast parsnips

Paul Heathcote rings the changes and adds dark chocolate to a richly spiced sauce to go with roast pigeon
By Paul Heathcote
Wood pigeon with spicy chocolate sauce and roast parsnips
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the parsnips

  • 4 parsnips
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the pigeons

  • 4 wood pigeons
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 ml cognac
  • 150 ml red wine
  • 450 ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp chinese five spice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 juniper berries, crushed
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 20 g chocolate
  • 1 tsp chilled butter
  • 1 tsp salt and black pepper
  • mashed potatoes, to serve
  • chopped flat leaf parsley


1. Peel the parsnips and leave whole, or cut into half lengthways if they're large. Boil in lightly salted water until cooked, but firm. Drain and pat dry. Leave on one side.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Remove the legs from the pigeons, chop into rough pieces and transfer to a heavy-based saucepan with about 2 tbsp of the oil. Fry, over a moderate heat until golden brown.

3. While the legs are browning, brush the pigeons with olive oil, season, and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes. The meat should still be quite pink in the centre.

4. Add the Cognac to the pigeon legs, and tip towards the heat - the cognac should ignite. Once the flames die-down, pour in the wine and cook-down until reduced by half.

5. Pour in the stock, and add five-spice powder, bay leaf and berries. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

6. While the sauce is simmering, finish off cooking the parsnips. Warm the golden syrup with a dash of oil in a frying pan and tip in the tender parsnips. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown - about 10 minutes or so.

7. Add the vegetables and toss until golden brown, season with salt and pepper and serve.

8. Add the cream and reduce the sauce for about 2-3 minutes over a high heat - it should take on a pouring consistency. Strain the sauce and whisk in the butter and add the chocolate.

9. Carve the breasts from the pigeons and remove the skin. Serve with mashed potato, roasted parsnips, and the spiced sauce. Finish with a scattering of chopped parsley.

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