Pan seared pigeon breasts with Lillet Blanc reduction


Lillet blanc is for me a most versatile French aperitif wine. Made famous when it was originally branded as Kina Lillet in Vesper’s eponymous cocktail in Flemming’s Casino Royale, it is a most underused of drinks that works fabulously as a mixer. I have used it here in a piquant sauce reduction.

This recipe  makes a dinner for four people

For the Lillet Blanc reduction

(100mls) sherry vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

7 fl oz (200 mls) Lillet Blanc

7 fl oz (200 mls) chicken stock

1 tbsp flour

In a small frying pan or skillet, dissolve the sugar in half the sherry vinegar, add the Lillet blanc and reduce by 3/4 or until the liquid becomes quite syrupy. Take the pan off the heat and add in the other half of the vinegar.


For the pigeon breasts

8 pigeon breasts

3 tbsp of goose or duck fat

5 oz (150 gms) smoked pancetta

4 chicken livers, minced (optional)

5 oz (150 gms) shiitake mushrooms, stalks removed and sliced

Sauté the pigeon breasts in a large frying pan until they are seared and just turned brown. add the pancetta, livers (if using) and mushrooms and sauté the contents until they appear to be cooked. Add the Lillet Blanc reduction and stir until the contents of the pan are glazed in the sauce.


Completing the dish

Pea shoots

Make a base of pea shoots in a dish. In the centre of this, add a layer of glazed pancetta and mushrooms, then layer the breasts on top of this. Pour some retained glaze over the breasts and serve.


Pigeon 3

3 thoughts on “Pan seared pigeon breasts with Lillet Blanc reduction

  1. Oh wow! I’m salivating! Amazing flavours! Love the thought of the citrus Lillet Blanc cutting the richness of the pigeon. You have a liking for orangey notes it seems.
    I do a seared pigeon breast with black pudding and caramelised onion- plenty of fat wood pigeons on our fields!
    Looking forward to trying this one!

  2. This looks beautiful but I don’t like the thought of eating pigeon- my gramps shoots them and gives them to the cat. Could I do this with pheasant instead, I can get those in Sainsbury’s.

    • Pheasant would work but the breasts are of course much larger. You might want to consider quail or perhaps even use chicken olives.

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