Pigeons with Orange and Wine Sauce

A delicious way to serve this delicate bird, Pigeons with Orange and Wine Sauce is easy to prepare and makes an inexpensive dinner party dish. Serve this dish with pilaff and a crisp green salad.

4 pigeons, oven-ready

6 slices streaky bacon, cut in half

4 oz. butter, melted

1 oz. butter medium-sized onion, finely chopped celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped

4 oz. white bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes juice and grated rind of

1 orange juice and grated rind of

1 medium- sized lemon egg

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

6 fl, oz. chicken stock

8 fl. oz. red wine

4 A. oz. orange juice

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon beurre manie

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

First make the stuffing. In a small frying-pan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the onion and celery and fry, stirring occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown.

Remove the pan from the heat and, with a slotted spoon, transfer the onion and celery to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.

Put the bread cubes in a small mixing bowl. Pour over the orange and lemon juice. When the bread is soft, add it to the onion and celery mixture. Add the grated orange and lemon rind, egg, salt, pepper and thyme. Using your hands, mix the ingredients well. Spoon the stuffing into the cavity of the birds. Transfer the pigeons to a medium-sized roasting tin.

Cover the breasts with the bacon and pour over the melted butter.

Place the roasting tin in the oven and roast the pigeons, basting occasionally, for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the breast is tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife. Remove the bacon for the last 20 minutes to allow the breasts of the birds to brown.

Remove the roasting tin from the oven. Transfer the birds to a warmed serving dish and keep hot while you prepare the sauce.

Pour away all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the roasting tin. Place the roasting tin over high heat, pour in the chicken stock, wine and the orange juice and bring them to the boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about one-third. Add the salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the beurre manie, a little at a time. Cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly, or until the sauce is smooth and thick. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if necessary. Strain the sauce, through a strainer, over the pigeons. Serve immediately.

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