Pigeons aux Olives

Young pigeons cooked with a savoury, slightly tart sauce, Pigeons aux Olives (pee-john oh-zaw-lecv) makes a fine dinner party dish when served with Savoury Rice or risotto.

4 slices streaky bacon

4 pigeons, oven-ready

2 oz. butter

1 small onion, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

6 fl. oz. dry red wine

8 fl. oz. beef stock

1 tablespoon cornflour dissolved in

4 tablespoons water

2 oz. green olives, stoned

2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped

Place a bacon slice on each pigeon breast. Tie the bacon in place with string. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam sub-sides, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until it is soft and translucent but not brown.

Add the pigeons, sprinkle with the salt, pepper and lemon rind and cook them, turning them frequently, for 3 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Pour the wine into the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the stock into the pan. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer the pigeons for 1 hour or until the breasts are tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife. Using tongs or two large spoons, transfer the pigeons to a warmed serving dish. Remove and discard the string and bacon. Keep the pigeons warm while you finish making the sauce.

Stir the cornflour mixture into the cooking juices in the pan. Increase the heat to moderate and bring the sauce to the boil, stirring constantly. Cook the sauce for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the olives and tomatoes and cook them for 2 minutes or until they are heated through. Pour the sauce over the pigeons and serve immediately.

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