About this recipe:It may be easier to buy whole pigeons for this recipe, and to remove the breasts. You can then use the rest to make stock.
125g (4½ oz) pearl barley, rinsed
About 500ml (18fl oz) chicken stock
5 tablespoons red wine
2 sprigs of thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
100g (3½ oz) chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons redcurrant jelly
2 tablespoons ruby port
4 pigeon breasts
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
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Method Prep:10min › Cook:1hr › Ready in:1hr10min
Put the barley in a saucepan with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes. Drain and return it to the saucepan with 350ml (12fl oz) of the stock, the wine and thyme. Bring to the boil, then cook gently for 40-45 minutes until tender, adding stock to prevent it drying out.
When the barley has been cooking for about 25 minutes, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small frying pan, add the onion and cook over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft.
Gently warm the redcurrant jelly and port in a small saucepan with 4 tablespoons of the remaining stock. Simmer until reduced by about half.
Heat a ridged griddle pan until very hot. Brush the pigeon breasts on each side with the remaining oil and sprinkle the skin side with salt and pepper. Place them skin side down on the hot pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Season the flesh side, turn and cook for 2-3 minutes until browned but still pink inside. Transfer to a warm plate to rest.
Add the mushroom and onion mixture and parsley to the cooked barley and mix. Spoon onto plates.
Make three diagonal cuts through each pigeon breast and put onto plates. Pour any juices from the pan and the resting plate into the sauce, reheat briefly and drizzle around each serving.