It might be tempting, if you live in the city, to try to hunt pigeons on your own. Although very rustic, this approach to gathering feast ingredients is strictly not recommended. Try an Asian grocery store instead.
You could use chickens, or other poultry, instead of pigeons in the following 3 recipes but the flavour of the different birds is not the same. These delicate birds are tasty, with a rich flavour somewhat like duck or emu.
14th Century: Pigeons in Orange Sauce
“And for an orange sauce with chicken, or partridge, or pigeon, take oranges and cut them up in white verjus and white wine, and put them to boil; and put ginger to boil, and put your pieces in it to boil.” Le Menagier de Paris, quoted in Pleyn Delit by Hieatt, Hosington, and Butler. Recipe #93
- 2 pigeons, whole
- 2 cup of wine
- 1/4 cup of white verjuice (use more wine, or more sour oranges, if you don’t have any, its a hard product to substitute)
- 4 sour oranges sliced, seeds removed
- 4 slices of dried ginger pieces
- Place birds in large sauce pan, with lid. Pour rest of ingredients in with birds. Top up with water so that birds are covered. Bring birds to boil.
- Turn down heat to low and let birds simmer with lid on for about 45 minutes or they come up to temperature. The internal temperature for cooked pigeon should be around 165 degrees. This is similar to poultry.
- Remove pigeons from sauce to carve.
- Serve pieces with orange sauce.
16 Century: Baked Pigeons
“To bake pigeons. Season them with Pepper and Salt and butter.”
The Good Huswifes Jewell (1596)
- 2 whole pigeons
- 1/4 cup of butter
- Pepper, fresh ground, to taste
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place pigeons in baking dish. Cover each bird with butter, pepper and salt.
- Bake for 1 hour, until birds come up to temperature. The internal temperature for cooked pigeon should be around 165 degrees.
16th Century: Pigeons with Plum Sauce
“Pigeons…Boiled in fat flesh broth, with verjuice, plums, sour cherries…” Dyets Dry Dinner 1599
- 8 cups of broth made from beef bones
- 2 whole pigeons
- 1/4 cup verjuice
- 8 plums, pitted, chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cherries, pitted, chopped
- Pour beef broth into a large pot. Submerge whole pigeons into broth, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer pigeons for 45 minutes to 1 hour until pigeons reach 165 degrees.
- Warm a cast iron frying pan on medium heat. Place rest of ingredients into a the pan, then reduce heat to medium low. They should simmer together until fruit is broken down, similar to apple sauce. Stir often to assist.
- Remove cooked pigeons from broth and carve up portions.
- Plate pigeons with sauce.