William Powell Country

Smoked Pigeon Salad

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Article written by 18 July 2013
Smoked Pigeon

Smoked pigeon breast is one of the best delicacies I can think of. They are a delicious summer staple in the Church household. Cut thin, smoked pigeon breast can be used in most recipes for sliced cured meats, and is second to none of them. The following recipe may require trial and error with designing a smoker, but if you are a tinkerer, you’ll enjoy getting there.

  • Take a few plump, young pigeon breasts.
  • Lay an inch of running salt on a tray, and very thinly layer any herbs or spices you may like (suggestions are crushed juniper, chopped rosemary, smoked paprika etc).
  • Place breasts on the salt and herbs, then cover with another inch of salt.
  • Leave for an hour.
  • Wash the breasts and pat dry with a tea towel, and leave to air dry for a few hours.


There are several ways you can smoke the breasts. They should be cold smoked, so the temperature of the smoke needs to be below say 35-40 degrees centigrade where it meets the meat.

Here are some ways you could do it if you don’t have a smoker. These methods will cold smoke anything. Use any native hardwood sawdust, shavings or even logs if you can control the temperature:

  • You might fashion a rod to poke them up your chimney, and smoulder some sawdust in the fire;
  • Light a smouldering sawdust fire in a biscuit tin on the floor of a shed (don’t burn it down);
  • Use a series of chimney pots on top of each other with a smouldering pile of sawdust at the bottom.

Smoke the breasts for 4-6 hours under these conditions. This will vary depending how much smoke you can manufacture, and how thick it is where it meets the pigeon. Leave the pigeon to rest for a day in the fridge, uncovered. The drier the pigeon gets, the better.

The Salad

  • Put a basic rocket and herb leaf salad together.
  • Slice the pigeon paper thin (or as close as you can get). Layer it on the salad as you might with delicate Italian meats.
  • Shave some parmesan on to the salad.
  • Dress with the best olive oil, some lemon juice, pepper and a small drizzle of elderberry or balsamic vinegar.
  • You might like to add some type of croutons as an extra texture.
  • Serve with the freshest Mediterranean types of bread, and plenty of olive oil.

Tip: Smoked pigeon breast cut thin can be used in most recipes for thinly sliced cured meats, and is second to none of them.


William Church

Born and raised in the Essex countryside, will has been fishing since the age of 7. He has a particular love of fly fishing in rivers, however is not averse to using just about any method for any fish in any water where there’s.. Read more.

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