During the holidays my family makes a few special meat purchases from D’Artagnan, a New York supplier of gourmet meats. This year I put in a word for these wild pigeons based on the particularly tender and flavorful squab I ordered in a restaraunt this past year. They did not disappoint and they paired amazingly well with the sage and balsamic-port reduction in this recipe. Because squab isn’t readily available, feel free to replace the pigeons with cornish game hens which are available in everyday supermarkets. Also consider pairing the balsamic glaze with duck breast, which I am sure to do in the future.
- 4 whole pigeons
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup port
- 3 teaspoons sage (additional for garnish)
- 3 teaspoons parsley (additional for garnish)
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean and gut the pigeons and dry thoroughly. Stuff each bird with 1/2 teaspoon sage each. Place the pigeons breast side down in an oven proof pan (I used a cast iron skillet). Brush thoroughly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.
While the pigeons are roasting, in a saucepan heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, season with salt and pepper, and heat on medium-low until lightly golden. Once the shallots are golden and have absorbed the olive oil, add the balsamic and port. Heat on a low simmer while you roast the squab.
Turn the birds over and roast for another 10 minutes, then turn the heat up to 500 degrees and cook for 10 more minutes to brown the skins. While the birds are finishing up, add the butter and remaining (1 teaspoon each) sage and parsley to the glaze.
Remove the birds from the oven, checking for doneness with a thermometer (internal temperature should be at least 160 degrees). Place the birds on a serving dish and strain the pan drippings through a sieve. Add 2 Tablespoons of the strained cooking sauce to the balsamic glaze. Pour the mixed glaze over the pigeons, garnish with salt, sage and parsley.