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Welcome to the first of my monthly Chef's Notes blog. This month, as Game season begins, and Wood pigeon has come into season.

Wood Pigeon

Wood pigeon is an adaptable game bird, that finishes it’s nesting season in October. It’s an underrated protein due to it’s size, and isn’t as popular as the typical grouse or mallard ducks you expect to see on a majority of menus. As long as you don’t overcook it, and I would say undercook it and allow it to rest, then you’re guaranteed moist meat even in the breast.

My favourite way of cooking Wood pigeon is classic pan-roasting on the crown, which goes great with girolles, which are also currently in season. You can also confit the legs, in duck fat and thyme, which go really well in a pie or equally as simple oven roasted seasonal veg. Pigeon can also stand up to fruit such as blackberries, due to it’s strong gamey taste.

Here’s a recipe I’ve been working on that I’ll have on the Special’s board this coming month:

Wood pigeon, Scottish girolles, Golden beetroot puree



-1 Whole pigeon crown

-5g Butter

-2g Thyme


-60g Scottish girolles

-Salt & pepper to taste

Beetroot Puree

-150g Golden beetroot, diced

-20ml Red wine vinegar

-10g Sugar

-50ml water

Blackberry Jus

-100ml Chicken stock

-Pigeon trimmings

-30ml Red wine

-10g Red currant jelly

-50g Blackberries

-20g White onion, diced

-10g Carrot, diced

-5ml neutral oil

-A couple of sprigs of thyme


  1. Pan fry pigeon trimmings, onion and carrot, on medium high heat in 5ml oil, until the pigeon starts to develop colour and your vegetables soften. Deglaze the pan with red wine and reduce to half. Add redcurrant jelly and incorporate into your reduction. Add your stock, and reduce to half again. Strain liquid into a separate container.
  2.  Add your beetroot into a frying pan, on medium high with 5ml oil and saute until softened. Add red wine vinegar and sugar, and stir until incorporated. Add your water and allow liquid to simmer. Add to food processor and blitz into a fine liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a separate pan, allow it to reach a high temperature, season the outside of your pigeon and place the crown skin side down. Let it gain colour until the skin turns golden brown and crispy. Flip, and add your butter and thyme, then baste for 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for 6 minutes.
  4. Add your girolles to the empty pan, and pan cook for 2-3 minutes. Season to taste in the pan.
  5. Finally plate, starting with a bed of beetroot puree, then your pigeon crown, place your girolles and serve with your blackberry jus in a separate jug.


Let me know how you get on if you try this recipe at home, and tag us @easthillwandsworth on Instagram.

See you soon,

Chef John