Recipe with The Du Cane in Braxted, Essex
Braxted pigeon with figs and Bullace gravy
Serves 4For the pigeon marinade8 wood pigeons (plucked, cleaned and the supremes removed, carcase and legs chopped)2 juniper berries (crushed)1 bay leaf1 sprig of thyme (bruised)1 shallot (peeled and finely sliced)2 cloves of garlic (crushed)6 peppercorns (crushed)2 tablespoons of oil1 tablespoon of red wine
Ingredients for the saucePigeon carcasses (chopped)2 shallots4 juniper berries250g Bullace plums (any sharp plum variety will work)1 carrot (peeled and diced)1 leek (diced1 stick of celery (diced)2 tablespoons of oil2 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly1 measure of ruby port200ml of rich red wine
Ingredients for the figs4 fresh British figs50ml of clear Rivenhall honey25g of unsalted butterA pinch of cinnamon and powdered cloves to dust
BATTLING with huge spiders and live snakes isn’t usually part of the role of the chef, but that’s what Jonathan Brown faced when he spent three years in Africa. He worked for the World Wildlife Federation, training locals in a new hotel in the previously war-torn, untouched dessert. But Jonathan’s home is Colchester. He worked locally for Michelin starred and 3 AA rosette restaurants and still works closely with the Colchester Institute where he started helping budding young chefs. Flying in the face of adversity, Jonathan and his two partners opened The Du Cane in February. ‘It’s been a tough year, but people still want locally-sourced food that is good value for money,’ says Jonathan. Here he shares a warming winter recipe.
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• For the marinade, combine all the ingredients and pour evenly over the pigeon supremes and place in the fridge for 8 hours
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• For the sauce, place a heavy saucepan on a high heat with the oil. Fry the bones until evenly brown. Strain off any excess oil and add the bones back to the pan with the celery, carrot, shallot and leek. Fry until lightly coloured. Add the juniper, port and redcurrant jelly and allow to caramelise slightly. Add the red wine and water to cover all of the carcasses, followed by the whole bullace plums.
• Simmer for 1-2 hours, skimming regularly, then strain through a fine sieve and decant into another saucepan. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and allow the liquid to reduce by ¾ or until a smooth.
• For the figs, trim off the tops, cut in half lengthways and place on a metal tray. Dot the pink flesh with butterand drizzle with honey. Dust with the spices and roast for 5 to 10 minutes until soft and well glazed. Add any excess juices to the sauce already prepared.
• To complete the dish, add 25ml of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a high heat. Once hot, add the pigeon supremes taken from the marinade and dried and fry them for 3 minutes on one side. Turn and fry the other side for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and season. Bring the sauce to the boil and take the figs from the oven. Arrange the pigeon breasts around the figs and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with picked herbs.
Chef’s tipAsk your butcher to prepare the pigeons for you. Add seasonal root vegetables and a creamy parsley mashed potato for a larger portion.
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The Du CaneTiptree RoadGreat BraxtedCM8 3EJ01621 891 697www.theducane.co.uk