Pigeon cooked two ways, roasted breast and legs simmered with red wine
A pigeon purchased from a butcher in les Halles de Pau was the inspiration for this spring meal. This bird caught my eye because of its robust size (the butcher described it as assez pour deux, basically meaning it is a monster!) and because of its absolute freshness. Note that, when a bird still has its head on and has not had the innards removed, it is easy to determine freshness with just a sniff. A fresh bird has a earthy, animal smell, not at all unpleasant.
Anyway, the farmer stands outside les Halles also yielded beautiful, purple cheeked, young turnips and early season green asparagus; at that point, the dish pretty much creates itself! I decided to cook the pigeon in an old fashion way that involves first roasting it whole in a hot oven until it is nicely golden outside but still rare inside, then separating the breast and legs, and using the carcass to make a rich red wine sauce. The legs are then simmered in this sauce until tender, while the breasts are finished in a saute pan.
Here are some photos of the process:
Thats about it. It’s actually a lot less complicated than is sounds; It think I only spent about 45 minutes work, if you don’t count the time for simmering the legs. And that time can profitably be used for a little pre-meal glass of wine.
I served the duck pieces on a slice of toasted baguette so that there is something with which to soak up all the sauce. For the asparagus, I like to just steam it very quickly in a covered saute pan with a few tablespoons of water, salt, pepper and a big chunk of butter.