Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Christmas Chique 2012 – Game is the New Turkey

Apparently Game – feathered and fowl – is going to be popular this year instead of the traditional Turkey. Venison is always a favourite but Pigeon seems to be experiencing a renaissance. The days of Pigeon Pie are long gone and pan fried Pigeon Breast seems to be all the rage. I'm not surprised – it's an easy dish to prepare and is better than duck in my opinion. Pigeon meat is dark and has very little fat. If you haven't tried it before it tastes a little like a mild pâté. Wild Wood Pigeon is usually available in the markets but Squab (young domestic pigeon) is more tender – and plump.
Pigeon is a delicacy in the Middle East - from Morocco to Persia. In Egypt raising domestic pigeons is an important industry and you'll see dovecots dotted about the farms and small holdings along the Nile, some of which are a centuries old. It's believed that they were domesticated starting 10,000 years ago and pigeons are mentioned in 5,000 year-old Egyptian hieroglyphics
I remember a meal I had years ago at a restaurant of pan fried pigeon breast served with an apricot tartlet – it was delicious and would make a good addition to any Christmas menu. The apricot tartlet was very simple – just plain pastry with lattice work over apricot compote - and the pigeon breast was pan fried in butter with no marinade or sauce. Simple flavours and so good it has stuck in my mind for over a decade! Red Cabbage would be a great accompaniment and rather than use a braised red cabbage recipe I thought this one for a Red Cabbage Warm Salad looked scrumptious.
Red Cabbage Warm Salad
1 small red cabbage (finely shredded)
1 red onion (sliced)
4 tbsp sultanas
2 apples (diced)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Olive oil
1 piece of root ginger (grated)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
Handful fresh parsley (chopped)
Fry the red cabbage, onion, apple and ginger in a pan in the olive oil for a minute or so until they soften slightly. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 5 minutes. Serve.

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