ROAST PIGEON WITH THYME, RASPBERRIES, AND WHISKY GRAVY
Inspiration for this recipe comes from Scotland, a country famous for its raspberries, and above all its grouse, game birds that can fly at nearly 60 miles an hour. Grouse are dark-fleshed and pungent, and pigeon or guinea hen is the nearest readily available alternative,
4 pigeons, cleaned and oven ready
8 sprigs thyme
60 ml/4 tablespoons Scotch whisky
330 g/12 oz raspberries
30 g/2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
170 g/6 oz thin bacon slices
1 tablespoon flour
250 ml/1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
1. Heat the oven to 425°F/220°C. Set aside four sprigs of thyme for decoration. Pound the rest in mortar and pestle, or with the base of a heavy pan. Pour over 3 tablespoons of the whisky and leave the thyme to soak.
2. Crush half of the raspberries and stuff them inside the pigeons. Spread with birds and butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay the soaked thyme on top. Wrap the birds with sliced bacon so they are held firmly, set them in a roasting pan and pour over any whisky left from the thyme. Roast the birds, turning occasionally, for 25-30 minutes, until well browned and the legs do not resist when pulled.
3. Transfer the pigeons to a dish, cover with foil and keep them warm. For the sauce; discard, all but a tablespoon of fat from the pan. Whisk in the flour and cook until brown, 1-2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the pan juices. Simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Strain the sauce into a small pan, whisk in the jelly and stir over a low heat until melted. Then stir in the remaining raspberries and a tablespoon of whisky and cook for 1 minute until the raspberries are just soft. Season the sauce to taste.
4. Discard the strings from the pigeons and set them on warm individual plates or a platter. Spoon over a little sauce and decorate with the reserved sprigs of thyme.