Pigeon with Cherries

After enjoying pigeon with cherries at Povero Diavolo, I thought it would be nice to create my own version of it. I made a sauce of pureed cherries and reduced pigeon stock. For some more cherry flavor I deglazed the pan with Kirsch after browning the meat, but still the sauce didn’t have a very distinct cherry flavor. However, it was delicious, had great depth of flavor, and worked very well with the pigeon (which I had cooked sous-vide). Just like strawberry jam does not taste like fresh strawberries, a cooked cherry sauce doesn’t taste like fresh cherries. Still, it was so good that I will definitely make this again. I bet this will also be excellent made with blackberries (but then the sauce would need to be sieved to remove the seeds).


For 2 large or 4 small servings

2 pigeons, separated into breasts, legs, and carcasses

500 grams (1.1 lbs) cherries

sugar (optional)

2 Tbsp clarified butter

60 ml (1/4 cup) Kirsch

aromatic vegetables and herbs for the stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Season the pigeon legs with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Vacuum seal them and cook them sous-vide for 12 hours at 60ºC/140ºF. Lower the temperature to 55ºC/131ºF and add the pigeon breasts, also seasoned and vacuum sealed. Cook them for 2 hours.

Make a stock using the carcasses, aromatic vegetables, and herbs.

Sieve the stock and put it in a wide pan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat such that it simmers.

Simmer the stock until it is reduced to about 10% of the original volume, stirring now and then.

Keep some cherries apart for garnish. Pit the remaining cherries and put them in the blender.

Puree the cherries.

Put the cherry puree in saucepan and bring to a boil. You may need to add some sugar depending on the ripeness of the cherries and your preference.

Reduce the heat and simmer the cherries, stirring now and then, until thick.

Take the pigeon breast and legs out of the sous-vide pouch, reserving the juices, and pat the meat dry with paper towels.

Heat the clarified butter in a frying pan. Brown the pigeon pieces over high heat.

Take out the pigeon pieces and deglaze the pan with the Kirsch. Keep the pigeon pieces warm by wrapping them in aluminum foil.

Add the juices from the sous-vide pouch.

Add the reduced cherry puree and the reduced pigeon stock.

Stir and cook over medium heat until the sauce has a nice consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Warm up the cherries in the oven (at 180ºC/350ºF) for a couple of minutes.

Serve the pigeon with the sauce on warm plates, garnished with the cherries and carrots that were first parboiled for 10 minutes and then browned in clarified butter.

Wine pairing

This calls for a full-bodied wine that can handle the cherry sauce, such as an Amarone. The cherry sauce was a bit too sweet for the Amarone that we had with it, so be careful with the sugar when you prepare this!


Ossobuco sounds like a winter dish, but the traditional gremolata topping of fresh herbs, lemon zest, and garlic, freshens it up just enough to make it perfect for a cool summer’s day. Cooking it sous-vide ensures the meat will be both tender and juicy and won’t heat up your house as much, but you can also braise it traditionally in the oven.


16 thoughts on “Pigeon with Cherries

  1. Excellent recipe! Thanks for sharing. I’ve found that Kirsch has very seldom a distinctive cherry flavor. Only the very best (and expensive) have. I usually collect wild cherries in summer. They have a delicate bitter taste and would probably be a great choice for the sauce. Bird cherries would be even better. They are ripe now and are absolutely delicious for jam. With vanilla they taste like chocolate. I’m pretty sure that bird cherry jam would be great for the sauce.


  2. Great post and recipe, Stefan. Love the use of the cherries although the addition of the pigeon stock would somewhat mute the flavor of the cherries. Nonetheless, I’m sure the cherries still let their presence be known.
    We don’t see pigeon here in the US other than those in the buildings downtown (inedible) and squab. I also would imagine wild pigeon would have a lot more flavor than squab like wild duck vs. domestic duck. I definitely need to give this a try.
    Thanks for sharing.


    1. Thanks, Richard. The interesting thing is that farmed pigeon from France is actually prized more (and also a lot more pricey) than wood pigeon. I haven’t tasted them side by side, but I’ve always found them fairly similar. Too bad you can’t get pigeon, as they have great flavor. I’ve never tried squab and would have to look it up to know what it even looks like. The cherry flavor was already muted by cooking them. Adding the pigeon demi glace added another layer of flavor without really diminishing the cherry. I guess this sauce will also work with other gamey meat.


  3. I love cherries with anything strong and meaty. Recently, I did a cherry sauce with pork loin and 5 spice. This worked well. However, it is a far more rustic production than this. Very nice indeed.


  4. It’s possible that the stereotypical “cherry” flavour you’re looking for, is from the chemical benzaldehyde, which naturally occurs in the stone of the cherry. It’s the same stuff that gives bitter almonds and marzipan their distinct flavour.

    Long story short – if that’s what you’re after, adding a splash of amaretto might boost those notes.


    1. Good point. I thought the Kirsch would do the trick, but perhaps using bitter almond extract (or indeed amaretto) does a better job. I’ll definitely try that next time, thanks!


  5. I sure wish I’d seen this while in Michigan, though the area’s eternal internet problems made that impossible. Zia sure would have loved it, as do I. Pairing cherries with pigeon makes this a great idea, Stefan.


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