Pigeons are always on the menu! The Game for Anything team have added depth to the flavour of the meat by smoking, before adding a moutwatering, sweet elderberry syrup. Read on for the full smoked pigeon breast with elderberry syrup recipe

With the crops starting to be cut, there are plenty of opportunities to get out on the pigeons and this can be such a great addition to the weekly meal plan, from a simple salad to a lunchtime snack.

I enjoy using the time sat in the hide while pigeon shooting to think about new recipes and to have a look around at what is in season and how they can be paired, using the old saying ‘if they grow together, they go together’.

Pigeon is one of those birds that, when removing the breasts, I try to keep the skin on as it really does add something to the finished dish.

In the pigeon dish this month, we are smoking it to give it an extra layer of flavour. When smoking meats, it is important to try and get some salt into the meat so the smoke flavour is held better. There are different methods such as dry or wet brining or you can even inject the brine into the meat. With this recipe, we have used a simple wet brine.

And of course we are all very excited to be back shooting partridge, which is such a fantastic and versatile bird.

With the partridge being one of the earlier birds we get into the Game For Anything kitchen in the new season, it’s such an exciting time, but I do have to remember to keep some back to have later in the year (I don’t always manage this!).

This month, we’ve chosen to make a lunchtime snack with the pigeon and a nice summer dish with the partridge to enjoy while we still have the long evenings. Click here for the partridge recipe (delicious Coronation partridge!) And click here for more delicious game recipes using everything from rabbit to venison!

Smoked pigeon with elderberry syrup | Serves 4



  • 30g demerara sugar
  • 70g table salt
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • * 5 juniper berries
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 60ml port and 1litre cold water


Elderberry syrup

  • 500g elderberries
  • 200-300g caster sugar
  • 1” fresh ginger



Elderberry syrup

1. Use a teaspoon to remove the skin of the fresh ginger and finely slice

2. Using a fork, remove the elderberry stalks

3. Place the berries and ginger into a saucepan and just cover with cold water

4. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes

5. Place a sieve with a jelly bag or muslin over a bowl

6. Strain the mixture through the jelly bag or muslin cloth

7. Weigh the liquid, then add the same amount of sugar i.e. 200g of elderberry liquid, add 200g of sugar

8. Place back into a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes until it starts to thicken and the sugar has melted, then allow it to cool

Smoked pigeon

1. Make the brine. Place all the ingredients into a large saucepan, heat and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved

2. Allow to cool completely

3. Place the pigeon breasts in the cool brine mix for 2 hours

4. After 2 hours, remove from the brine and pat dry with kitchen roll

5. Place the hickory wood dust into the cold smoker generator & light

6. Place the smoke generator into your smoker, this can be anything from a BBQ to a cardboard box – mine was our boot cupboard!

7. Once you have a good amount of smoke formed, place the breasts into the smoke

8. Smoke for 1 to 2 hours, dependent on taste

9. When the pigeon has been smoked, heat up an ovenproof frying pan, add a knob of butter, and place the breasts in, skin side down, and cook for 2 minutes

10. After 2 minutes, turn the breasts over and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then place in the oven for 5 minutes (this is for pink breasts, leave a little longer if you prefer them cooked through)

11. Remove from the oven and allow to rest on a chopping board for 2 minutes before slicing to serve

12. Serve on some soughdough toast with the elderberry sauce