Woodpigeon, Roasted Chestnut Mash, Spiced Jus with Caramelised Onion and Parsnip Crisps

Well, hello there.

Today, I went to the local market and bought my fruit and veg for the next week or so and then took a trip to my butchers and picked up a load of meat. My butcher is in Stourbridge and sells top quality meat at very reasonable prices.. A winning combination, obviously.

Anyhoo, the weather was thoroughly miserable today. The rain was more like some kind of eerie mist straight out of a Stephen King book. The pavements were covered in trodden-in leaves and were, in places, a danger to life and limb. A real autumnal Saturday.

While in Stourbridge I went to my usual array of shops, which range from the geeky to the ridiculous - I'm thinking principally Gamestation and Home Bargains. The result? No games, but I did buy a chopping board, which I sorely needed - Hurrah,

Anyway, I was pottering through Stourbridge and lo and behold there was a Farmers Market on. Laden with my meat that I'd bought, I had a quick nose and noticed a game stall - and not of the geeky variety, either. This stall had all manner of game for sale and I picked up some woodpigeon. 8 breasts for £5. Sweet.

So I set to work this afternoon making the dinner. I'd bought, rather fortuitously some chestnuts when getting my fruit and veg this morning and thought I could make some roasted chestnut mash, to go with my freshly bought pigeon.

Now, with game, the obvious sauce to make is red wine based. I think I may have mentioned this before on here, but I'm tea-total, so not having red wine in the house is hardly unusual - although I sometimes have it in for cooking purposes. This however, was not one of those times. My mind harked back to when I had pigeon at the Fat Duck. It was served in 'pickling jus' - so I thought I would make some of that.

For the spiced jus, I used:

About 200ml of water
Some cardamon pods (about 6)
A pinch of cinnemon
A pinch of paprika
About 6 cloves
A pinch of sugar
A couple of drops of lemon juice
A teaspoon of sugar
A dried chilli
A capful of vinegar

I mixed it all together and left it to infuse for about 2 hours. Then I sieved the bits out and left it until I was ready to start cooking. Here it is in the pan, infusing.

The only issue with what I was going to make was the sheer amount of last-minute processes that I was going to be required to complete. The very fact the pigeon cooks almost instantly presented all kinds of problems, so I apologise for the following amount of information in advance. Try and keep up - it was worth it in the end!

To make the mash, I roasted about 10 chestnuts in the oven on Gas Mark 8 for 20 minutes. I skinned them and whacked them in the food processor until they were chopped finely. I left them to one side to cool, until the rest of the mash was done, so they could be incorporated.

When I was ready. I then salted the potatoes and cooked them on the hob and added black pepper, milk and pepper when they were done, just before I added the chestnuts and they were ready to serve. As this was doing, I caramelised the onion in muscovado sugar and put them in the oven on a reduced heat (Gas Mark 1) to keep warm.

I finely chopped some mushrooms and grated some parsnip very thinly and fried them off in the pan. I set them aside in the oven while I completed the rest of the dish

I then heated up the jus and added half a teaspoon of arrowroot to thicken it up and while it was thickening I finally heated up the griddle pan and added the pigeon breasts. They needed 3 minutes either side and they were very pink, which was absolutely perfect. I assembled the food on the plate and oh boy, did it taste good.

It was probably the best thing I have ever created. It just all came together and the seasonality of the whole dish really made it for me. The sweet, yet lightly spiced jus on the delicate, yet distinctive pigeon flavour was a real winner. The mash was superb. There really are no words. It was nutty, creamy and it really was a taste of autumn on a plate.

Frustratingly, I really need to source a camera. It's genuinely doing my head in. The pictures in no way do the meal - or indeed the presentation, justice. I think I can source one for my next update, so until then, you'll have to suffer the turgid colour and resolution of my iPhone (and excuse the kitchen roll in the background. Sorry.

Eat well!


James said...

Sounds great! Farmers markets make food shopping much more fun don't they.

Will have to try the chestnut mash.

Hadn't realised you were back - a bit to catch up on.

The Phantom Chef said...

Hey James

Yes, I've been back for a couple of weeks now. I absolutely 100% agree about Farmers Markets. There's something very exciting about seeing all that food laid out and actually being able to talk to the people who rear the animals / plough the field etc.

The chestnut mash was just superb. I can't recommend it enough!

Speak soon