warm salad of pigeon breast with black pudding and bacon – serves 4

8 pigeon breasts, wing fillet and skin removed
600g black pudding, cut into bite size cubes
400g pancetta lardons or good dry cured streaky bacon cut into cubes
mixed peppery leaves (rocket, baby spinach, watercress )
a few sprigs of thyme leaves
olive oil
white wine vinegar
2 tbsp sherry or balsamic vinegar
grain mustard
Maldon salt and pepper

Make the dressing by mixing 2 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part white wine vinegar, 1 tsp mustard and 1 tsp honey, with a little salt & pepper to season.  Whisk together and set aside.
In a hot pan, pour 1 tbsp of olive oil. When hot, add the bacon and black pudding. Cook until starting to crisp.
Coat the pigeon breasts in olive oil and sprinkle over some thyme leaves and a good grind of fresh ground pepper and some sea salt.
Sear the pigeon breasts in a really hot pan for 90 seconds on each side and then remove and let them rest.
Deglaze the cooking pan with half the balsamic vinegar. Pour and scrape the contents in with the black pudding and bacon. Add the rest of the vinegar over the black pudding and bacon.
Dress the leaves with the dressing and pile in the middle of 4 plates.
Sprinkle the black pudding and bacon around the pile of leaves, then slice each breast in three pieces length ways and place 2 breasts over the salad leaves on each of the plates.
Sprinkle some Maldon salt, a grind of pepper and serve immediately.


this is inspired by my visit to Mike Robinson's Game and Wild Food cookery school at the Pot Kiln near Newbury - well worth a trip