Ingredients for 4 people: 1 pigeon (weighing approx. 500 g cleaned )4 juniper berries1 pinch peppercorns
2 bay leaves3 anchovy fillets10 parsley leaves2 cloves of garlic3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil½ glass white wine½ glass vegetable broth4 slices dry homemade Tuscan bread salt and pepper½ l water1 stalk of celery1 stalk of parsley1 onion1 carrot salt
(1) A “velino da sposa” (= bride’s veil) is a country-folks’ name for the little cheesecloth or net bag, tied up with kitchen string, which contains the herbs and/or spices so that they don’t “go astray”.
To prepare the broth: boil the vegetables in the water, over a moderate heat, for roughly 20 minutes, then filter to remove the pieces. Pass the pigeon over a flame to eliminate any remaining feathers and pull them off easily with the help of a small knife. Cut it in half lengthwise, eliminate any fatty parts and the innards if they should still be inside. Wash it under running water and pat dry with kitchen paper. In a deep pan, heat the oil with the 2 cloves of garlic “in camicia” (with their skin on and squashed with the palm of your hand) and a bay leaf. When the garlic has browned add the pigeon, laying it in the pan with the skin side downwards. As soon as it begins to turn golden brown, season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking over a lively heat for 5 minutes, turning it over from time to time, remove the garlic and bay leaf – before they burn – and when the pigeon is nicely browned all over, turn the heat down and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat up again and pour in the white wine; when it has evaporated completely, turn the heat off. Transfer the pigeon onto a chopping board to cool (set aside the pan with the cooking juices). Use a sharp knife to cut the meat off the bones (eliminating nerves and other unwanted parts), then chop it with a “mezzaluna” knife together with the parsley (previously washed and dried) and the anchovy filets. Prepare the “velino da sposa”, with the juniper berries (squashed with the tip of a knife) and the peppercorns inside it, and tie it up.
Heat the pan that you cooked the pigeon in and, when the cooking juices begin to boil, add the chopped meat, the “velino da sposa”, a bay leaf and the broth. Reduce the sauce over a moderate heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. When it’s ready, remove the "velino da sposa" and bay leaf. Toast the slices of bread and then spread the pigeon sauce on them. It’s a delicious dish!