Roast wood pigeon with baked celeriac, radicchio & grapes

by Ed Smith

Ed Smith shares a recipe that shows shopping at the Market is just as inspiring and rewarding if you’re cooking for one

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1 celeriac (800g-1kg)
1 wood pigeon
20g fridge cold butter, diced
100ml red wine (something cherry and black-fruity, like chianti) 
60g seedless red grapes
½ small radicchio tardivo, leaves separated 
1 tsp aged balsamic


Heat your oven to 180C. Wash and then trim the gnarliest roots from the celeriac so that it stands flat. Place it on a small baking sheet and then put that in the middle of the oven for 1 hour 30 mins. Go for a run, clean the house, take a break, drink some (but not all) of the wine.

Once the time is up, remove the celeriac and leave it to carry on steaming itself within its skin while you cook the rest of the dish. Lower the temperature to 150C. Remove the wishbone from the pigeon—this makes cutting the breasts off once cooked much easier and ensures maximum yield. Season the bird inside and out.

Put a small, oven-proof frying pan or skillet on a high heat. Add half the butter, then as it’s melting and foaming, fry and brown the pigeon for 1 min on each of the breasts and another 30 secs on its base. Place the pan and pigeon in the oven for 6 mins if you like it pink, 7 if you prefer it blushing, before transferring the bird to a warm plate to rest for 5 mins more.

Meanwhile, put that same pan back over a high heat (remember the handle will be very, very hot). Pour in the wine and reduce by two-thirds (this may take 3 mins). Add the remaining butter and whisk this into the wine before adding the grapes, radicchio and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 90 secs more.

Cut the celeriac in half and then one of the halves in half again. Set three-quarters of the celeriac to one side (see below for tips for leftovers), remove the skin from the remainder and cut into chunks.

Remove the breasts from the pigeon. Salt the underside generously, then put both the pigeon and celeriac on your plate, finishing with the radicchio, grapes and red wine sauce.

WASTE NOT You’ll have about three-quarters of the baked celeriac left over. Simply cut the skin away, cube the flesh and for another meal, warm that up again in 50ml or so of milk plus butter, salt and pepper, then mash or purée it. Alternatively, add a little more milk (or stock), heat and then blend to make a soup.

Grapes: pick away for breakfast, snacks and puddings.

Radicchio: keeps well in a brown paper bag in the fridge. Use the remaining half in salads, sandwiches, or wilt as a side dish for another meal.

Red wine: you know what to do.

Recipe and image: Ed Smith