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The Dish: Scottish Wood Pigeon
Where to Get It: Mintwood Place, 1813 Columbia Road NW; (202) 234-6732; mintwoodplace.com
Price: $19 appetizer, $38 entree
What It Is: This isn’t your crumb-pecking L’Enfant Plaza pigeon. Mintwood Place procures the Scottish Wood Pigeon, which is smaller and stronger-flavored than most squab, from a purveyor in Scotland. The breast is wrapped in savoy cabbage and rests on a bed of black Chinese forbidden rice.
What It Tastes Like: It doesn’t walk, quack, or look like a duck, but it sure tastes like one. The tender dark meat cuts easily and has a strong and gamey, but not unpleasant, smell.
The History: It’s pigeon season in Scotland right now, and this is one of chef Cedric Maupillier‘s treasured family recipes from Marseille, France. “My grandfather was a hunter. He’d wake up at four in the morning, make me breakfast, then we’d go hunting,” Maupillier says. “He’d hunt pheasant, pigeon, and smaller birds. Then he’d bring it back and my grandmother would clean and prepare it.” His grandmother made a variation of the dish he now serves at Mintwood Place by covering the bird meat in a forcemeat composed of legs, brandy, onions, hearts, liver, and lungs, then wrapping it in cabbage or kale. The meat is then braised slowly and served with a salad.
How to Eat It: “Warning: May contain buck shot!!!” reads the menu. Although the chef takes pains to remove any metal, be careful where you bite.
Photo by Scott Suchman