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Pigeon and bacon burgers

This recipe is so simple, it should be a standard for all burgers. It works particularly well with pigeon as the sweet smokiness of the bacon offsets the richness of the iron-y red pigeon meat very well indeed, but it is almost as good with wild duck breasts or venison.


Roughly cut the pigeon and bacon into chunks. Fit your mincer with the coarse blade. Mince the meats together, then mix well by hand and pass the mixture through the mincer again.

Divide the mixture into 4 even portions. Form these into thick burgers using your hands, or a burger press if you have one. Place the burgers in the fridge to firm up for an hour or two before cooking.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat (or you can cook the burgers on a barbecue or under a hot grill if you prefer). Season the burgers with a little pepper (you won’t need salt as the bacon will provide enough). When the pan is really hot, add the burgers and sear on one side without moving for around 5 minutes; if things start to get a bit smoky, turn down the heat slightly. Don’t be tempted to faff about with the burgers; leave them alone as prodding and poking can cause them to fall apart or release precious moisture.

Once the burgers are well browned on the underside, turn them over in the pan,

add the butter and bay leaves and cook for a further 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave the burgers in the pan to rest for 5 minutes.

Serve the burgers in bread rolls or on dripping (or buttered) toast, with whatever embellishments you like.

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  • 250g boneless pigeon breast meat, skin removed
  • 250g dry-cured smoked streaky bacon, rind removed
  • A good knob of butter
  • A few bay leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • 4 bread rolls or slices of toast, spread with dripping or butter
  • Mustard, ketchup and/or other embellishments of your choice

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Game Handbook