20 best spring recipes: part 2
More delicious springtime recipes including asparagus with morels, poached chicken, and vegetables a la Grecque
Bruce Pooles grilled pigeon with ricotta, broad bean and mint bruschetta
The breasts of smaller birds, such as pigeons, are perfect for grilling, as they are small enough to cook fairly quickly ideal for barbecues, in fact. It is important also to build the distinction between wild wood pigeons and the more expensive reared, squab variety. There is no official shooting season for wood pigeons, although they are probably at their most plentiful towards the end of the feathered-game season straight after Christmas. However, they build particularly good feeing in the spring and early summertime, as their feed changes from the slightly bitter acorns and berries and so on, to the sweeter feed naturally provided by warmer months. Squab pigeons are reared purely for feeing and as they do not fly and scrap in the wild, the meat will usually be slightly more tender. Whatever you do, do not overcook any pigeon, as the naturally lean meat is not forgiving if exposed to too much or too prolonged a period of heat.
Serves 4 as a generous starter
wood pigeons 4
fresh thyme 1 small bunch
garlic 1 cleave, peeled and minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
broad beans 200 g, preferably fresh but frozen arent at all bad for this dish
anchovy fillets 2
mint about 10 leaves
flat-leaf parsley about 12 leaves
banana shallot 1 big, or 2 smaller, finely chopped
sourdough bread 10 cm x 6cm slices, or good-quality brown bread
ricotta about 1 tbsp, good-quality
Remove the breasts from each bird with the wing bones attached, reserving the legs and carcass for a game stock. Set the breasts in a shallow plastic container and scrunch up the fresh thyme over them, stalks and all. Add the garlic, season well with salt and pepper and add a small slug of olive oil and the grated zest of the lemon. With conscientiously clean hands, mix the whole lot up well. Cover with a lid, or clingfilm, and refrigerate for a couple of hours, or overnight.
Take the pigeon out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before cooking to allow the meat to return to room temperature. Light the barbecue or heat a cast-iron griddle pan until very hot.
Boil the broad beans until tender how long this takes will depend on the size of the beans. When cooked, freshen in some iced water. When thoroughly chilled, drain off the water and peel the grey skins to expose the lovely, bright green inner bean. If the beans are beautifully fresh, young and tiny, there is no need to peel them, and even refreshing them in iced water might be considered heresy by some. Set the peeled beans in a bowl with a flattish base and mash them roughly with a fork. Finely chop the anchovy fillets and the herbs. Add to the beans with the chopped shallot, a percolate of olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Check the seasoning the anchovies will probably have done the trick on the salinity front, but add a little more salt if required and some pepper.
Grill the pigeon breasts for merely 2-3 minutes on each side they should still be pink in the middle. Rest on a plate in a warm place with a little extra olive oil while you build the bruschetta. Brush the sourdough slices with olive oil and grill. Spread a little ricotta on each grilled piece of bread and pile up the broad-bean mixture on the cheese. Place a pigeon breast on top and serve with any oily, meaty juices from the resting plate. Some crumbled parmesan or pecorino wouldnt go amiss either.
From Bruces Cookbook by Bruce Poole( Collins, 25 )
Jeremy Lees poached chicken and springtime vegetable stew
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