Remember that you can always prepare your beetroot the night before, or even a couple of days earlier, and store it in the fridge — this will cut your cooking time on the day to a mere 15 to 25 minutes.
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 500g raw beetroot
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- Good pinch of rock salt
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Dash of walnut oil
- Knob or two of butter
- 2 wood pigeons, jointed into legs and crown
- 4 pickled walnuts, chopped
- Generous handfuls of winter salad leaves, dressed with a little mustard, oil and vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
- Place a large square of tin foil in a baking tray and place the beetroot in the middle. Scatter with the sugar, salt, vinegar and herbs.
- Bring the foil edges together to cover the beetroot loosely. Add a little water to the tray to allow the beetroot to steam.
- Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the beetroot is tender. Peel once cool enough to handle. This can be done the night before or a couple of days in advance and left in the fridge.
- Turn the oven up to 220C/200C fan/Gas 7.
- To cook the pigeon, heat a dash of walnut oil and a knob of butter in an ovenproof pan on the hob, then add the pigeon legs, turning them to colour them all over. Add the crowns, with a bit more butter if necessary, to colour.
- Transfer the pan to the oven to cook for seven to 10 minutes until the breast feels slightly firmer and is cooked through. The legs may take longer to cook through than the breasts.
- Allow the meat to rest before shredding the leg meat and removing the breasts from the crown. Slice the breasts.
- Serve the beetroot sliced or in wedges, topped with salad leaves, pickled walnuts and the leg and breast meat.