Recipe: Cured Pigeon by guest Chef Chris Horridge

Posted in Recipes on 14/07/2010
Recipe: Cured Pigeon by guest Chef Chris Horridge

Throughout July guests at Reading’s only Michelin starred restaurant will have the chance to enjoy top quality food prepared by a celebrated ‘superhealthy’ guest chef.

L’Ortolan is delighted to welcome Chef Chris Horridge into the kitchen this July. Chris is widely recognised for his truly unique cuisine which delivers innovative flavours packed with health promoting nutrients.

"I want to create great food, that’s massively attractive and can also be enjoyed by the majority of people,” explains Chris, "I want to produce ‘healthy’ food that doesn’t taste like healthy food – people should be able to enjoy what they eat!”

Chris has prepared a special gluten and sugar-free menu for L’Ortolan guests to enjoy in July – 6-courses for £49 – and here Chris explains how to create a dish that’s not on the L’Ortolan menu in your own home.

Cured wild pigeon

Wild pigeon tends to be on the menu more infrequently these days particularly as it tends to have a strong flavour which is becoming less appealing to the modern palate. Curing the breasts tends to temper the strong aroma making it more palatable and subtler.

The recipe for the pigeon cure is as follows (with experience you can adjust it to your taste). To bring the wild angle back into the dish I usually serve it on a tile with a fruit puree and wild herbs. It can equally be served with more traditional accompaniments to cured meats.

  • 6 – 8 Pigeon breasts boneless, skin off, (1 breast per starter portion)
  • 50g Coarse sea salt
  • 50g Sugar
  • 1x 6” sprigs of savory or thyme
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 5 Cloves
  • 9g Garlic cloves
  • 6 Black pepper corns
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 250ml Red wine
  • 10 Juniper berries


  1. Crush all spices and herbs before using
  2. Add the salt and sugar to the wine and bring to the boil
  3. Remove from stove and add the other ingredients.
  4. When temperature is cool place pigeon in marinade cover and chill
  5. Turn every 12 hours leaving for a total of 48 hours
  6. When the meat is sufficiently cured it should be fairly firm to the touch
  7. If it still feels tender then continue to marinade for further 12 hours
  8. Wipe off the excess marinade wrap in cling film and freeze until solid
  9. Unwrap and using a very sharp knife slice as thin as you can or use a meat slicer (Be very careful – see below)
  10. As you slice lay the meat on a plate, this is important otherwise on defrosting (which is almost instant) the meat will clump together, being almost impossible to separate
  11. We slice the pigeon breast lengthways which allows us to roll it up around some wild herbs

Please note that cutting frozen meat with a sharp knife is difficult and the knife may sometimes slip if you are not very careful. Obtaining a meat slicer is a safer option – household editions are now reasonably priced.