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Pigeon, sorrel, lentils

There’s a lovely, sophisticated interplay of flavours and textures here – pigeon is gamey and lean, Puy lentils nutty and earthy, the sorrel sauce sharp but silky and rich. Together, they make an elegant trio, ideal for a special dinner.

Servings 4

Ingredients

For the lentils

  • 100g Puy lentils
  • 1 garlic clove, bashed
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • A few parsley stalks (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the pigeon and sorrel

  • 8 pigeon breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 300g fresh sorrel, larger leaves stripped from the stalks, roughly shredded
  • 1 tablespoon double cream
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put the lentils into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute only, then drain. Return the lentils to the pan and cover with fresh water. Add the garlic, and bay leaf and parsley stalks, if using. Bring back to a very gentle simmer and cook slowly for about half an hour, topping up with boiling water if necessary, until tender but not mushy.

Drain the lentils and discard the herbs and garlic, then toss with the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Set aside in a warm place.

Season the pigeon breasts with salt and pepper. Place a medium frying pan over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When hot, add the pigeon breasts and fry for 2–3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan to a warmed plate to rest; keep warm.

Turn the heat down under the frying pan and add the butter. Add the shredded sorrel and cook, turning in the butter, until the leaves begin to wilt and darken – this will happen pretty quickly. Add the cream and any juices that have seeped from the resting pigeon. Cook for a minute or two to reduce the juices a little, then season with salt and pepper. If the sorrel sauce seems too thick, thin it down slightly with a spoonful or two of water or stock.

Spoon the sorrel sauce on to warm plates. Slice the pigeon breasts and arrange on the plates, with a good scattering of lentils round and about.