the appetizer:

James Peterson explains Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making with recipes like Oysters with Champagne Sauce; Tournedos Rossini (Filet of Beef with Sauce Périgueux); and Sautéed Pigeon Breasts with Giblet Sauce.

Cookbook Profile

Sautéed Pigeon Breasts with Giblet Sauce

Sautéed Pigeon Breasts with Giblet Sauce

Yield: 4 Servings


It is best to obtain pigeons that have been eviscerated but contain all the giblets—heart, liver, gizzard, and lungs. If these are unavailable, the pigeon livers can be used alone. This dish is particularly good with fresh boiled and buttered fava beans.


1. Remove the giblets from the pigeons and set them aside: Carefully remove the pigeon breasts (with skin attached) and the thighs from the carcasses. Coarsely chop the pigeon carcasses.

2. Brown the chopped carcasses in a pan with the onion, carrot, and garlic, in a very small amount of oil.

3. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup (125 milliliters) of stock; reduce it rapidly until it forms a glace and caramelizes. Add the rest of the stock and the bouquet garni and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain this base and reserve.

4. Combine the butter, the giblets, the juniper berries, and the marc. Purée them to a paste in a food processor. Cover this mixture with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until needed.

5. When ready to serve, saute the pigeon breasts and thighs in a small amount of oil. Transfer them to a plate, discard the fat in the pan, and deglaze the pan with the pigeon stock.

6. Finish the sauce with about 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of the giblet mixture per serving.

7. Adjust the seasonings and add vinegar, drop by drop, to taste.

8. Nap or surround the sautéed breasts and thighs with the sauce. If you like, slice the breasts lengthwise and arrange them over a vegetable such as fava beans.


Giblets and Foie Gras

Americans have long been familiar with the traditional giblet gravy served with the holiday turkey. Most home cooks precook the gizzards, liver, and heart by simmering them in water. The giblet broth is then used along with the roasting juices to make the gravy; the giblets are chopped and added to the gravy at the end. Giblets cooked and chopped in this way, while contributing texture and contrast, do not actually thicken.

The French—both professionals and home cooks—have long used raw giblets, often in conjunction with blood, to finish sauces. Giblets used in this way thicken the sauce; contribute a full, often gamy, flavor; and give the sauce a characteristic muddy appearance, sometimes unappealing to the uninitiated but delicious once tasted.

The most straightforward technique is to finely chop the raw giblets (liver, gizzard, heart, and lungs) of a bird to be roasted or braised with about half their weight in butter (the butter prevents the mixture from clumping when it is combined with the sauce). Appropriate herbs, a few drops of marc or Cognac, port, or crushed juniper berries can also be added to the giblet mixture to enhance its flavor. The roasting or braising juices are then prepared in the usual way and finished with the chopped giblet-butter mixture.

In restaurant settings, the technique can also be used for made-to-order pan sauces.


Buy Sauces


Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making, Third Edition


Cookbook Profile Archive


This page created November 2008