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Pigeon breasts with morello cherry sauce

Morellos are sour cherries, a bit too tart to eat raw but excellent in cooked dishes. Their July season is short and they're not easy to buy, so grab them if you get the chance. Your best bet may be to finagle some from a friend's garden (the morellos we use are all homegrown). You can also buy them frozen - these will work well in this recipe, but they release a lot of juice so you may not want to dish it all up. Taken from the Channel 4 series, River Cottage to the Core. Photo: Simon Wheeler.


To make the sauce, put the cherries in a pan with the thyme and sugar and add 1 tablespoon water (but not if using frozen cherries).

Bring to a simmer and cook very gently for a few minutes until the fruit is soft but not collapsed. Taste and add a little more sugar if needed, but keep it quite tart. Set aside.

Toss the pigeon breasts with the olive oil, thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the pigeon breasts.

Cook for 1 minute, turn the breasts over and cook for another minute, then turn again. Toss them in the pan for a couple more minutes.

Slice one pigeon breast in half. If it is nicely pink in the middle, remove all the breasts from the pan and set aside to rest on a warm plate.

If it still looks very raw, cook for another minute or two. Once the pigeon breasts are out of the pan and resting pour the wine into the hot pan to deglaze it, letting it bubble briefly while you scrape up any caramelised bits with a spoon.

Add the cherry sauce and stir briefly to combine with the pan juices, then taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Cut each pigeon breast on the diagonal into 4 or 5 slices. Arrange on warm plates. Add the warm cherry sauce, along with any resting juices and it's ready to serve.

Serving suggestions

Serve with crusty bread.

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  • 4 pigeon breasts, skinned
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A sprig of thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cherry sauce:

  • 175g morello cherries, stoned
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • Crusty bread to serve (optional)

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Fruit Every Day!