Wood pigeon is commonplace in the wild and is generally meatier and tastier than other types of pigeon. With the benefit of no closed season it can also be easily substituted in pheasant or partridge recipes as it has a wild gamey flavour. This recipe from Michelin star L’Ortolan’s head chef Tom Clarke gives it a lighter, fruity twist with an artful presentation.

Ingredients and method


  • Pigeon breast
  • Red wine
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic

Marinade pigeon breast in red wine, carrot, 1 celery, 1 shallot ,2 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs rosemary, 2 cloves garlic

Cherry Gel

  • 500g cherry puree
  • 5g agar

Bring to the boil together the cherry puree and agar for 2 mins. Chill and when set blitz in a blender until smooth adjust consistency with cherry juice and pass through sieve.

Beetroot balls

  • 2 red beetroots
  • 200g beetroot juice
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Salt to taste

Peel and ball out balls of beetroot using a melon baller then cook in the beetroot juice on a low heat for 20-30 min until cooked

Beetroot powder

Grate 1 beetroot and squeeze the excess juice out and in a oven on a low heat 60c dry out for 6-8 hour or until dry.

Then blitz in a blender until a powder.

Baby navets

Blanch 10 navets (purple top turnips) in boiling salted water for 2 minutes or until cooked. Chill in ice water. When chilled peel off the skin and keep in beetroot juice which is seasoned.

Truffle dressing

  • 1g truffle oil
  • 10g white wine vinegar
  • 100g olive oil
  • 5g chopped truffle

To serve:

  • Fresh cherries de-stoned
  • Dandelion
  • Frizzy lettuce
  • Red vein sorrel cress
  • Viola flowers
  • Pigeon jus
L’Ortolan Wood Pigeon, Credit: David Griffen Photography

The Chef: Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke took over the helm in the Michelin starred kitchen at L’Ortolan in January 2015. Up until then he had been Acting Head Chef for over a year working closely with Alan Murchison. Tom’s passion for cooking began in his early years while he was growing up in Essex. He cooked at home for the family and went on to study catering at Colechester Institute. During his time there he had the opportunity to work in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

The Restaurant: L’Ortolan, Church Lane, Shinfield, Reading, Berkshire | 0118 988 8500 |  www.lortolan.com

The Club Offer: Members and their guests receive a 10% discount on the food bill – click here for applicable meal periods

L’Ortolan is set in a Grade II listed building within its own beautiful grounds, close to the bustle of Reading yet firmly in the Berkshire countryside. The dining room extends from the main building into a light and airy conservatory. For the more adventurous diners the chef’s table is in the heart of the kitchen where you can soak up the atmosphere during a busy service and enjoy a succession of exquisite food and wine pairings. One Michelin starred since 2003, L’Ortolan had a change of Head Chef in 2015. Tom Clarke, previously acting Head Chef took over the kitchen in January 2015 and introduced his own style to the menus. His imaginative cuisine, modern French with influences from further afield, extends throughout the whole L’Ortolan experience.


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