Wood pigeon saltimbocca

Wood pigeon saltimbocca

Gladwin Brothers

2 wood pigeon breasts
2 sage leaves
2 thin slices lemon
2 long slices cured ham
(e.g. Cumbrian or Parma)
40g unsalted butter
Handful mixed salad leaves
25ml red wine
1 tbs balsamic vinegar


Saltimbocca is a traditional Italian recipe in which meat is wrapped with sage and prosciutto. We shoot our own pigeons in Sussex (to stop them nicking the grapes in the vineyard), cure our own ham and grow our own sage.

Traditional dishes such as this have survived the centuries for good reason – the simple idea of lightly sautéing tender veal (or in our case pigeon), infusing it with sage and encasing the whole thing in pork to encapsulate all the flavours must have been someone’s moment of brilliance. We serve it very simply as a sharing plate with some tender salad leaves and the cooking juices. This recipe may be for sharing but don’t be surprised if someone wants one all to themselves. Serves 2 as a starter or 6 as a sharing plate.

Lay out the pigeon breasts on a chopping board with a sage leaf and a slice of lemon on top of each. Wrap a slice of ham around each breast to form a parcel and season all over with salt and pepper.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat, melt the butter, and fry the breasts for 2–3 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, scatter some colourful salad leaves over a large platter ready for serving. Transfer the breasts to a carving board, slice each one into three and arrange on the bed of salad leaves.

Return the frying pan to a high heat and add the red wine and balsamic vinegar. Let it sizzle and deglaze, then pour over the pigeon and serve.