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Contemporary Tuscan cuisine: pigeon with turnips, shallots and chard

A long time ago, pigeon was a staple food for farmers as it was easy to breed in farmyards. It's said that pigeon was cooked to celebrate the height of the summer in mid-August and many villages still dedicate a food festival to it, such as the Sagra del Piccione in Montecchio, near Cortona, from late July to early August.

Pigeon with turnips, shallots and chard
Pigeon with turnips, shallots and chard

I remember when I used to visit my grandmother Laura in Florence. For lunch, there was always a large pan of pigeons cooked with tomatoes and sage. The problem was that I never knew how to eat it. I always ended up eating it clumsily with my hands and left the most flavourful parts attached to the bones.

Antonello Sardi making pigeon with turnips, shallots and chard
Antonello Sardi making pigeon with turnips, shallots and chard

I recently received an invitation from a restaurant specialized in contemporary Florentine cuisine "La Bottega del Buon Caffè" to take part in a cooking show by Chef Antonello Sardi. When they asked me what I wanted to taste and photograph, I was happy to choose pigeon.

Fry the pigeon thighs
Fry the pigeon thighs

Fried thighs and pan-fried breasts, decorated with flowers and accompanied with turnips, creamed chard and shallots. All of the vegetables come from the restaurant owner’s estate in the Siena countryside. A refined dish, exuding aromas full of memories ... I wonder what my Grandma would say seeing this triumph of colors and shapes.

Ingredients: For 4 people - 4 pigeons - 8 shallots - Edible flowers - A bunch of chard - 4 white turnips - Extra virgin olive oil - Breadcrumbs - Port - Extra virgin olive oil - Salt

Pigeon with turnips, shallots and chard - Ingredients
Pigeon with turnips, shallots and chard - Ingredients

Preparation: - Bone the pigeon and set the breast and thighs aside. - Prepare a broth with the pigeon bones and let it evaporate to make a dense sauce - Roll the thighs in breadcrumbs - Bake the white turnips and the shallots at 180 degrees for an hour - Boil the beets in salted water and blend them to make a smooth cream - Cook the pigeon brisket with a little olive oil in a hot pan just on the side with the skin

Sauté the shallots with a bit of Port
Sauté the shallots with a bit of Port

- In the same pan, sauté first the white turnip and then the shallots with a bit of Port. - Fry the thighs - Spread the beet cream on the plate. Arrange the white turnip, the thigh and the breast covered with the sauce and a drizzle of olive oil. Finally, decorate with edible flowers.

Cook the pigeon brisket with a little olive oil in a hot pan just on the side with the skin
Cook the pigeon brisket with a little olive oil in a hot pan just on the side with the skin

About Antonello Sardi and La Bottega del Buon Caffè

Antonello Sardi is the young Florentine chef at La Bottega del Buon Caffè in Florence. Designed by Jeanette Thottrup  the restaurant offers the freshest ingredients daily from Borgo Santo Pietro’s own farm and creates fancy seasonal dishes.