Sub editor Laura Paton presents this delicious pan fried pigeon recipe with golden sweetcorn fritters and tangy beetroot

Pan-fried pigeon with sweetcorn fritters and a beetroot salad * Serves 2 * Preparation and cooking time: 45 mins


For the pigeon:

? salt and freshly ground pepper

? butter

? olive oil

? 4 x pigeon breasts, skin on

For the sweetcorn fritters (makes 6 fritters):

? 50g self-raising flour

? 75ml semi-skimmed milk

? 1 egg, separated

? ½ red chilli, finely chopped

? 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

? 2 spring onions, finely sliced

? 125g sweetcorn, (thawed if using frozen)

? sunflower oil for frying

For the salad:

? a large handful of rocket

? ½ head of red chicory, trimmed

? 1 cooked beetroot (not in vinegar), chopped into small chunks

? 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

? 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

? ½ pinch sea salt

? ½ pinch freshly ground pepper

to serve:

? sour cream


1. To make the fritters: sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Pour the milk into a jug, add the egg yolk and mix well. Make a well in the centre of the flour and gradually add the egg mixture, whisking until smooth after each addition. Once combined, stir in the chilli, parsley and spring onions.

2. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg white until it forms soft peaks. Fold into the batter along with the sweetcorn. Leave to stand for a few minutes.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Ladle spoonfuls of batter into the pan. Cook in batches of three. Fry the fritters for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown, then keep warm in a low oven while you cook the second batch, adding a little more oil to the pan if needed.

4. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil and a knob of butter in a heavy-based pan. Season both sides of the pigeon breasts. Once the pan is hot, add the pigeon breasts, skin side down. Cook on a medium to high heat for 2-4 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the breasts). Remove from the pan and allow to rest for approx. 5 minutes.

5. While the pigeon rests, place the rocket, chicory and beetroot in a bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad. Toss lightly.

6. Slice the pigeon breasts and divide between the two plates. Remove the fritters from the oven and make a stack of three on each plate. Serve with the salad and a generous dollop of sour cream.

I have a lot to thank a humble sweetcorn fritter for. Hard to believe? Well, let me set the scene: Sydney, 2010 and I’d been living in a hostel for six months and subsisting on bleached white bread, plain omelettes and Pure Blonde beer. My taste buds had fallen into a deep slumber. After seven months of travelling, food had slipped to the bottom of my priority list: my bank balance looked forlorn and no amount of hopeful pavement-pounding, CV in hand, was getting me a job.

But back to that fritter. My friend and fellow backpacker was leaving the city. So we decided to treat ourselves and mark the occasion with a meal at Bill’s in Surry Hills. Bill’s, the eponymously named restaurant owned by chef Bill Granger – who is all sun-kissed skin and lackadaisical movements – was light, bright, and filled with white-washed wooden furniture and food-savvy Australian suits on their lunch breaks. For us, it felt like another world.

For one delicious hour we said goodbye to eating canteen-style, elbow-to-elbow with the other hostel guests – a mixture of eager and world-weary travellers in equal measure – with the huge wall-mounted telly blasting out American sitcoms that no one found funny (not even the Americans). Instead, we ate outside, at a table just for two, blinking as the sun’s rays glinted off the polished cutlery, with big grins across our faces, which broadened further when the waiter came to take our order.

Served with streaky bacon, avocado salsa and roasted tomatoes, Bill’s fritters – which have gained quite a reputation since he first added them to the menu 25 years ago, and were the subject of an Independent article last year – were crisp and golden brown on the outside, soft on the inside, while each kernel retained its ‘pop’. It was a thing of joy.

Ever since, sweetcorn has reminded me of sunshine, summer and all it promises. So it’s little wonder that when the lighter mornings and evenings kicked in, with some sunny days to boot, sweetcorn sprang to mind as an accompaniment to some lovely woodpigeon. Granted, we are a few months away from the hot nights of the sweetcorn season, when we can enjoy it on the cob, butter gliding across the kernels, covering them in a shimmery gloss. But that’s not to say that we should eschew this flavoursome ingredient. Tinned or frozen, it’s just as good. And in a fritter, you’d never know the difference.

Fritters are really easy to make – even easier than pancakes – so they’re ideal for when you’re in a hurry, or need a recipe that the kids can help with. You can swap the sweetcorn for peas if you want to – as they also work well with pigeon – or go half and half. I’ve chosen bitter leaves to complement the sweet pigeon meat, but if you don’t like rocket and chicory, then any crunchy salad leaves will do. You can serve this dish up as a lunch or a light dinner – or why not swap the salad for some bacon and a poached egg for a brunch that’s sure to set you up for the day!