Wood Pigeon & Mushroom Tagliatelle

September 8, 2015

pigeon tagliatelle

I know a few people that are a bit afraid of trying game, mainly because it’s something very new and was very living at some point; most likely running around a field, or in this case flapping amongst the trees. We are so used to the homogenised, sterile world of pre packed meats from the supermarket we forget that actually, wild game is not only delicious, but sustainable. You know what the animal has been eating and most importantly it’s been allowed to behave naturally before being killed. A much better life than say… a battery farmed chicken, wouldn’t you agree?

That’s not to say we shouldn’t use supermarkets at all, I run a food blog and so they come in handy for all sorts of ingredients that would otherwise be hard to get hold of. The market is always the best place to get affordable fresh food though and it always inspires me to make something. A supermarket very rarely makes me feel like that.

That being said I completely understand why some people can be a bit apprehensive. Game has such a wide range of flavours, stretching from the mild-tasting pheasant (if you like chicken, you’ll love these) to the more robust and acquired taste of hare. Wood pigeon however, sits in the middle, with the flavour being somewhere between a good steak and liver.

The game season has just got under way, and we should start seeing the first lot of partridges and pheasants coming in to butchers shops. I picked up a couple of fresh wood pigeons from the Food Hall to create a recipe that shows them off. Please give them a try, they are such good eating and, cheap as chips really. I bought 2 for £3.60, and nothing will go to waste as the carcases can be put in the freezer, then used to make stocks, soups and sauces.


4 wood pigeon breasts

2 garlic cloves finely sliced (1 for the marinade)

1 sprig of fresh rosemary (for the marinade)

100g mushrooms, use what you like I used a mix of button and chestnut. Wild ones would be amazing if you can get hold of them

½ small white onion finely diced

1 small red chilli finely chopped

250g dried tagliatelle pasta

Small handful of freshly chopped tarragon

Medium sized handful freshly chopped parsley

2-3 dessert spoons of crème fraiche

Salt and pepper

Olive oil for cooking


1. First you need to remove the breasts from the pigeons; this is easy enough to do by running a sharp knife down the side of the centre breast bone and slicing the breasts away from the carcass. If you’re not comfortable doing this ask the butcher to do it for you. Once removed check the breasts for any stray bits of shot that may be in them. Now put them in to a bowl and drizzle over about 3 dessert spoons of olive oil, add 1 of the garlic cloves, then take the rosemary sprig and scrunch it up in your hand to release the oils, place in the bowl along with a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Mix it all together and leave to marinate for about an hour.

2. Once marinated remove the excess marinade and fry off the breasts on medium high heat in a little oil for around 1-2 minutes each side depending on the size. You want them blushing pink in the centre. If they are over cooked they go tough and grey. Once cooked and the skin crisp, place on a plate to rest.

3. Place a pan of salted water on to boil. As it’s boiling place the mushrooms in the same pan you cooked the pigeon in and fry until they take on some colour, now add the onion and chilli and continue to fry on a low heat for about 5 minutes before lastly adding the other clove of garlic. Mix together and just leave on a very low heat for a moment.

4. Place the tagliatelle in to the boiling water and cook for 4-6 minutes until just tender. While the pasta is cooking slice the pigeon breasts and add back to the pan with the mushrooms and turn the heat up to medium, add the crème fraiche, some salt and pepper and around 4 dessert spoons of the water the pasta was cooked in. Using a pair of tongues, add the pasta from the pan in to the frying pan with everything else along with the freshly chopped parsley and tarragon, then mix thoroughly for a minute or so before serving.