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Wood Pigeons Irish-Style

This hearty Irish recipe makes an excellent dinner party dish. Serve with peas or beans and Parsley Potatoes.

6 wood pigeons, oven-ready

7 small onions

16

11. oz. wine vinegar

2 oz. seasoned flour, made with

2 oz. flour,

1 teaspoon salt,

1 teaspoon black pepper,

1 teaspoon dried thyme and

2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 oz. salt pork, cubed

4 oz. mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

2 oz. lean ham, chopped

6 celery hearts

2

11. oz. Irish whiskey

8 fl. oz. chicken or game stock 2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoons water 4 fl. oz. dry white wine

Place the wood pigeons in a deep dish. Slice one onion thinly and scatter it over the pigeons. Pour over the vinegar. Set aside in a cool place to marinate overnight.

Pour off and discard the vinegar and onion. Wipe the pigeons dry with kitchen paper towels.

Place the seasoned flour on a plate and dip the pigeons in the flour, one by one, coating them thoroughly and shaking off any excess. Set aside.

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

In a large frying-pan, fry the salt pork over moderate heat.for 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally, or until it has rendered most of its fat. Chop the remaining onions finely and add them to the pan. Fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until they are soft and translucent but not brown. Add the mushrooms and ham and cook for a further 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the mixture from the pan and transfer it to a large ovenproof casserole. Keep warm.

In the same frying-pan, fry the wood pigeons for

5 minutes, turning occa-sionally. Transfer the wood pigeons to the casserole and place them on top of the ham mixture. Place a celery heart in between each wood pigeon. Pour

2 table-spoons of the whiskey over the pigeons and add the chicken or game stock. Cover the casserole and place it in the centre of the oven. Cook for

25 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to fairly hot 375 CF (Gas Mark 5, 190°C). Remove the casserole from the oven and add the remaining whiskey, the cornflour mixture and the wine. Cover the casserole and return it to the oven for a further 25 minutes.

Remove the casserole from the oven and serve the wood pigeons at once, straight from the casserole.

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