Pigeons with Green Peas

Fresh young peas should be used for this simple but delicious dish.

4 pigeons, oven-ready

4 slices streaky bacon

2 oz. butter, melted

½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 lb. fresh peas, weighed after shelling

1 teaspoon sugar

1 round lettuce, outer leaves removed, washed and chopped

8 spring onions , trimmed and chopped

5 fl. oz. chicken stock

2 teaspoons cornflour mixed to a paste with 1 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to moderate 350 °F (Gas Mark 4, 180’C).

Place the pigeons in a roasting tin. Lay the slices of bacon over the pigeon breasts. Pour over 1 ounce of the melted butter. Sprinkle

1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper over the pigeons. Place the roasting tin in the oven and roast the pigeons, basting occasionally, for

50 minutes to

1 hour or until the breasts are tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

Remove the bacon for the last 20 minutes of the cooking time to allow the breasts of the pigeons to colour.

Meanwhile, prepare the peas. Pour the remaining melted butter into a medium-sized, flameproof casserole. Add the peas and sprinkle them with the remaining salt and the sugar. Cover the peas with the lettuce and the spring onions . Cover the casserole and place it in the oven with the pigeons. Cook the peas for 30 minutes or until they are tender.

Remove the roasting tin from the oven. Using tongs or two large spoons, transfer the pigeons to a warmed dish. Keep the pigeons warm.

Put the roasting tin over moderately high heat and add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Remove the roasting tin from the heat and pour the cooking juices through a strainer into a small mixing bowl.

Set aside.

Remove the casserole from the oven and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas, lettuce and spring onions to the serving dish and arrange them around the pigeons.

Add the strained cooking juices to the juices in the casserole. Stir in the corn-flour mixture. Place the casserole over moderate heat and bring the sauce to the boil, stirring constantly. Cook the sauce for 2 minutes. Remove the casserole from the heat and pour the sauce into a warmed sauccboat.

Serve the pigeons immediately, with the sauce.

Pigeons a la Nipoise is ideal for an informal dinner party. The pigeons are served with a wine sauce.

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