The pigeon is chef Laurent Brouard of Bistro Du Vin’s favourite festive bird.
At Christmas-time, a pigeon would most surely be on the table, accompanied by a spread of oysters, caviar, smoked salmon, shrimps from France, some nice champagnes and wines, cheeses, and always, Buche de Noel or Christmas log cake for dessert.
Says chef Brouard, “If I can be honest, turkey is a more Anglo-Saxon bird. For us, it’s more pigeon, Challans duck, pheasant, Poulet de Bresse or one I really like and serve for our set lunch these days, the Poulet Noir de Bourgogne. In France, pigeon is well-loved and eaten even outside of the Christmas season. Even here in Singapore when I get some, I sometimes marinate them with brandy and spices and simply cook them on the barbecue.”
In this particular roast French pigeon recipe, he elevates the flavours of the dish with a coffee and chestnut mash. “Chestnut mash is a childhood memory for me as each Christmas, my aunt and grandmother would make it as a side to game meat. One day 10 years ago, I decided to try it. It became one of my signatures.” Adding coffee was a natural instinct, as it is one of chef Brouard’s favourite beverages and he often uses coffee beans to smoke meat or vegetables. Here, he adds a dash of espresso to the chestnut mash to add roasty aromas to the dish.
Roast French pigeon with chestnuts and coffee mash
By group executive chef Laurent Brouard
4 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 sprig thyme
salt and pepper to taste
For the pigeon legs confit
200g duck fat (store-bought**)
For the pigeon jus
Pigeon bones and wings
20g port wine
water enough to cover contents
salt and pepper to taste
For the chestnuts and coffee mash
80g butter (add about 2 tbsp (30g) at the start and the rest later in the blender)
250g frozen chestnuts
400g vegetable stock (store-bought***)
2 cups espresso
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Spatchcock the pigeon. First, cut off the wings and the legs. Set them aside to make pigeon legs confit and pigeon jus later. Using a scissors, make an incision from the tail end of the bird and trim upwards. Remove the backbone and innards, leaving the bird’s heart-shaped breastplate intact.
2. Cook the pigeon. Pre-heat the oven to 185˚C. Add olive oil, heat up butter in a pan over medium heat and add garlic and thyme. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the pigeon breast and sear it in the pan for about 4 to 6 mins on each side. Then roast the pigeon in the oven for 8 mins. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 15 mins.
3. Confit the pigeon legs. Heat up the duck fat to 90˚C. Drop the legs in the fat for about 30 mins to confit them. Dish out and set aside. If making in advance, cover and store in fridge. Heat the legs up in a pan with a little butter before plating.
4. Make the pigeon jus. Roast the back bones and wings in the oven at 220˚C for 20 mins until golden brown, then pour some water in the tray to deglaze the pan and get all the cooking sucs (brown bits left in pan).
5. Put bones and wings, cooking sucs, port wine in a pot and cover with water then let simmer for 20 to 25 mins, then turn off the heat. Let infuse for 2 hrs then sieve and pour in another pot and reduce for about 45 mins to 1hr till the jus becomes thick, then add a bit butter to make it shiny. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Make the chestnuts and coffee mash. Heat up a good knob of butter (about 2 tbsp) in a pot, throw in frozen chestnuts and cook for 4 to 6 mins.
7. Cover with vegetable stock and simmer for about 20 mins, pour in 2 cups of espresso and cook for another 5 mins. Blend the mix in robot coupe, thermomix or other blender, adding butter to get a smooth-and-shiny textured mash. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Plate up the dish. Pour jus over pigeon and serve with additional sides such as sautéed baby vegetables.
*& ** Available from retailers such as Secrets Fine Food.
*** Available from retailers such as Huber’s Butchery or Little Farms.
Related: Christmas Recipes: Capella Singapore’s Tandoori-Flavoured Turkey; Christmas Recipes: Summerhill’s Roast Chicken, Pears, Grapes and Sage; and Christmas Recipes: Salted & Hung’s Stuffed Quail, Mash and Roasted Mushrooms.
This is the last of our birdy recipes leading up to Christmas. Have a great holiday season ahead!
More recipe videos can be found here, and follow #wndchristmas on Instagram for all things Christmas this festive season!