Pigeon Breasts with a Leek Risotto

I first had this dish many years ago at the Grosvenor Arms (now the Angel) in Hindon and attempted it myself many times before I got as close as I could to it.

  • Serves 2
  • 1 medium sized leek
  • butter
  • ½ cup risotto rice
  • Noilly Prat or white wine
  • 1pt/500ml light chicken stock kept hot
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 or 4 pigeon breasts
  • Balsamic vinegar
  1. Thinly slice the leek across the grain, wash and drain.
  2. Melt two thirds of the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, add some white pepper and gently stir in the leeks until covered with melted butter, if the leeks are old or tough cover the pan and steam for a minute or so.
  3. Add the rice and stir 'til the grains are coated with the juices
  4. Turn up the heat and add a slug of Noilly Prat, stirring gently until the sizzling ceases
  5. Add a ladleful of stock and stir gently
  6. Repeat until the rice is cooked but leave a tablespoon of stock for the sauce, if there is insufficient stock use hot water.
  7. Meanwhile melt the rest of the butter in a small frying pan and fry the thyme sprigs for a few seconds, remove and drain, they should crisp up, if not fry for a little longer.
  8. When the rice is nearly done; gently brown the pigeon breasts in the butter, remove and keep warm. This will provide rare meat, if you prefer your meat well done leave them in the pan
  9. Deglaze the pan with a splash of Noilly Prat and add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Bring to boil to reduce until sticky then add the remaining stock. Whisk in a little butter to thicken.
  10. Dish up the risotto into warmed bowls, thinly slice the pigeon breasts and arrange on top, spoon the sauce over the pigeon and decorate with the fried thyme sprigs.