Pigeon Pies

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Ingredients

8 savoy cabbage leaves, stalks removed

2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for greasing

Small knob of butter

8 skinless pigeon breasts

8 pancetta slices or thin streaky bacon

Plain flour for dusting

375g pack of all butter puff pastry

1 egg beaten

 

For the gravy:

1 shallot finely chopped

1 tbsp plain flour

2 handfuls blackberries

1 tbsp crème de cassis (optional)

1 tbsp port

Small glass of red wine

 

Method

Bring a pan of water to the boil, cook the cabbage leaves for 1 min then drain and place in cold water. Once cool, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan. Sear the pigeon for about 30 secs on each side until browned, then transfer to a plate and set aside the pan as it is. Heat oven to 200 C fan/gas 7

When the pigeon has rested, make 4 parcels by sandwiching 2 breasts together, wrapping them tightly in the cabbage leaves, then criss-crossing 2 slices of pancetta over the parcel to secure. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until it’s the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut out 4 x 12 cm circles and place on a greased baking tray. Sit a cabbage parcel in the middle of each circle. Roll the pastry trimmings out again and cut out 4 more circles about 16 cm in diameter. Brush the edges of the pastry on the tray with the beaten egg, then drape over the larger circles and pat them round to make a large ‘ravioli’, trying to expel any air. With a fork, push the sides together. Brush the pies generously with egg, poke a small airhole in the top of each, then sprinkle with salt flakes, if you like. Bake the pies for 20 mins until the pastry is dark golden. Remove and leave to rest for 10 mins.

Meanwhile, make your gravy. Put the pan with the pigeon cooking juices back on the heat and sizzle with shallot until golden. Stir in the flour and cook for a few minutes until sandy. Add the blackberries and cassis, port and wine, then bubble down. Add the stock and simmer for a few minutes until you have a gravy. Set aside and reheat when the pies are ready. To serve, carefully carve each pie in half so you see the cross section of breast, and serve with a little of the sauce poured around.