In our opinion, Blackberry & Rosemary is a classic combination; granted, such flavours aren’t often seen together but there was some logic to our invention! You see, we love Goat’s Cheese and, individually, rosemary and blackberries are a perfect parry to its robust saltiness, so we thought we’d marry them together for an extra bit of zing! The rich, sweet and tart blackberries are supported with a woody, floral rosemary back note perfect for anything gamey or rich.
Now, thanks to Elly from Nutmegs, seven we have just such a recipe that we really love the look of. Of course, it helps that pigeon is one of our favourite meats, often overlooked but can fantastically flavoursome if not overcooked.
Here’s our extract for Blackberry & Rosemary Glazed Pigeon Risotto reproduced with kind permission from Elly. Pictures are copyright to Elly too.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 4 pigeon breasts
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil for the marinade & a splash for cooking
- 4 tbsp Blackberry & Rosemary balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey for marinade + 2 tsp honey for later
- Salt and pepper
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 250g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
- A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
- 1 tsp dried sage/chopped fresh sage
- 150g risotto rice
- 1 glass white wine
- 1 litre porcini mushroom stock (or chicken stock plus 200ml soaking water from 15g dried porcini, mushrooms chopped and reserved)
- 100g cooked and peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
- few small cubes of butter & shavings of parmesan (optional)
- 1-2 tbsp truffle oil (optional)
- Finely chopped fresh rosemary, to garnish
First, marinate the pigeon breasts. Mix the rapeseed oil, 2 tbsp of the balsamic, 1 tbsp honey & a good grind of salt and pepper in a bowl & coat the pigeon breasts; cover with cling & leave in the fridge (I left mine for 2 hours but overnight is fine). Take them out of the fridge an hour before you cook so they come up to temperature.
Once you’re ready to cook, make the risotto. If using dried porcini, soak in 200ml boiling water for half an hour beforehand, then make 800ml chicken stock & keep warm in a pan. If not, make up the litre of porcini mushroom stock & keep warm in a pan while you start the risotto. Heat a splash of oil in a large saucepan & fry the onion & mushrooms over a high heat until the mushrooms have released all their liquid & are starting to turn golden brown and sticky. Add the chopped porcini, if using. Lower the heat & add the garlic, thyme and sage, cooking for another couple of minutes until the garlic has softened.
Add another glug of oil & the risotto rice, stirring to coat it in the oil. Cook for a minute, then pour in the wine & wait until it has been absorbed before adding a ladleful of warm stock. Stir over a medium heat and wait until all the liquid has been absorbed before adding another ladleful. (If using porcini soaking water, add this first then carry on with chicken stock). I stir gently in one direction, big clockwise strokes, as I think it keep the rice from breaking.
Continue for 15-20 minutes, stirring often & checking the rice for doneness – it should be tender with a little bit of bite remaining. If it’s chalky, it’s not quite done. You may not need all the stock but it should be oozy – it’s always better to be a bit looser than thick and claggy. At this point, stir in the chestnuts and check the seasoning. Add the cubed butter (if using) and a few shavings of parmesan (if using); stir and put the lid on to relax.
When the risotto is almost cooked, get a non-stick frying pan really hot then add the pigeon breasts, skin side down. Cook for 2 minutes then flip over and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes. Remove to a plate and cover with foil while you make the glaze. Turn the heat down & add the remaining balsamic vinegar and honey. It should bubble away – stir it well and let it bubble until it’s thick & syrupy but keep an eye on it as it will catch easily.
To serve, spoon the risotto onto two plates, drizzle with the truffle oil (if using), then put the seared pigeon on top. Spoon over the balsamic glaze, garnish with fresh chopped rosemary, and serve.
If you’re not converted to pigeon, we implore you to give it a go – it’s relatively cheap but really tasty served pink. That said, this risotto would also work with other meats, and a few we’re going to try are:
- venison – a beautifully tender venison loin, crusted with salt and pepper and pan fried in butter & oil for 3-4 minutes each side so it’s still pink, sliced and arranged in a line on top of the risotto
- lamb – treat lamb fillet the same way but add some lovely chopped herbs to the crust
- duck breast – exactly as the pigeon; a little longer cooking time but make sure you don’t overcook them and, like all these meats, rest for 5 minutes before carving
Let us know how you get on! Don’t gorget to check out Elly’s other recipes – she’s fab!