Hay-smoked pigeon, beetroot, chicory and grapes

The MasterChef contestants are given a masterclass


  • roast beetroot
  • 6/7 long organic beetroots per person.
  • 2 - 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 - 4 pieces of orange zest
  • maldon salt (couple of handfuls)
  • beetroot puree
  • 150 ml red port
  • 3 tblsp red wine vinegar
  • beetroot juice
  • pigeon
  • imperial squaw pigeon
  • maldon salt
  • sprig of thyme
  • salted butter
  • chicory
  • 1 head of chicory per person
  • juniper berries (3 per portion)
  • 2 pieces orange zest
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 large tbsp normal runny honey
  • caster sugar
  • semi-dried grapes
  • seedless green grapes (8-9 each, but only use 5)
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 80 ml pernod
  • madeira jus
  • 2 banana shallots
  • 10 - 15 girole mushrooms
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tblsp red wine vinegar
  • 100 ml sweet madeira
  • 200 ml veal stock
  • sea salt
  • malted truffle butter
  • 2 banana shallots
  • 50 ml madeira
  • 50 ml black truffle juice
  • summer truffle (must be fresh)
  • 1 heaped tbsp of barley malt extract
  • 1 l chicken stock
  • 400 ml single pouring cream
  • 50 – 60 g salted butter
  • 4 g lecithin
  • for pickled beetroot
  • 1 long beetroot
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 200 ml sherry vinegar
  • 300 ml water
  • for beetroot glaze
  • beetroot juice
  • red wine vinegar
  • 2 - 3 giroles
  • thyme
  • 2 - 3 black peppercorns
  • giroles
  • butter
  • 6 - 7 giroles
  • chicken leg mix
  • 40 g chicken leg mix (supplied)
  • 20 g foie gras
  • thyme
  • pigeon liver
  • sea salt
  • pastilla
  • 1 sheet of brik pastry
  • butter
  • cinnamon
  • chicken confit mix (supplied)
  • fennel pollen
  • garnish
  • 3 borage flowers per person
  • green sorrel (de belville) – 7 leaves.
  • smoked pigeon
  • using cooked crown of pigeon from waterbath
  • thyme
  • panfried pigeon
  • still using crown and legs and heart
  • sunflower oil
  • 1.50 tblsp butter
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Beetroot method: Place Beetroot thyme orange zest and Maldon salt together. Wrap in tinfoil. Oven at 180C and roast them for up to an hour and a half. Keep checking after an hour as it might take less time. Note how tender it is to knife point. Turn oven down to 90C when you take out beetroot, which will be used for pigeon.
  2. Dry off cooked beetroot with hands. Peel off skin gently with small kitchen knife. Have to be quick at this stage as they are easiest to peel when warm.
  3. Take knife and cut lengthwise in half and remove stems. Keep one ½ beetroot length aside, which will be used with your glazing later. Chop up rest of beetroot thinly.
  4. Take a large pot and place beetroot in with 150mls of red port, 3 tbsp of red wine vinegar and beetroot juice until it’s covered. Bring down until reduced.
  5. Put in Blender and let run for about 6/7 minutes until very smooth. Put into pot for reheating.
  6. Add a little few drops of red wine vinegar if you think you need a little more acidity and then season with salt.
  7. Pigeon method: Remove pigeon legs by turning leg, snap back and cut off at socket. On thigh legs, remove bone by snapping out.
  8. Go to first joint on wingbone, push back and then follow knife down. Using heel of knife, tidy up your wings by cutting of the bone end with a clean, sharp cut.
  9. Follow crown, take off backbone, snap off. Remove liver and heart from bird and put aside for later on. You should have a clean crown on the bone with wing bones trimmed.
  10. Lightly salt legs on outside and inside with Maldon salt. Tidy up the pigeon legbone, by trimming bone with heel of sharp large kitchen knife. Push skin down and tidy up.
  11. Push back vacuum bag, turn down the top so doesn’t get wet. Put legs into one bag and crown in another. Put 1 sprig of thyme and knob of butter (5g) on crown. (Nothing else on legs, which are already salted, no herbs). Vacuum pack with nice tight seal.Vacuum pack 40. Welding time 2.5 seconds.
  12. Put your timer on for 40 mins. Legs and crown at 60C in pre-heated waterbath. Crown comes out at 40 minutes and then legs stay in for another 40-45 minutes and raise heat to 64 when crown removed.
  13. When legs done take out of vacuum pack and pat dry on on towel. Set aside.
  14. Chicory method: Remove outer leaves of the head of chicory. Trim ends so nice and clean and neat.
  15. Get another vacuum pack. Add three pieces of juniper berries lightly crushed in your fingers, along with 2 pieces of orange zest and 5 black peppercorns. Put in 2 large tablespoons of normal runny honey. Vacuum at 40 and 2 ½ on vacuum pack again.
  16. Cook in Preheated waterbath at 95C for an hour and a half.
  17. Get medium frying pan ready, with thin layer of caster sugar in bottom.
  18. Once chicory is cooked, it should be soft to the touch. If undercooked it can be very bitter. Take out of the vacuum pack.
  19. Get a chopping board. Split in half lengthways. In a really low heat put your pan on with sugar and chicory. It should start to caramelize. Once it starts to caramelize, put it in a low oven at 90C.
  20. Semi-dried grapes method: Bring to boil, and turn down and sit aside for 30 seconds. Remove grapes and star anise and then add 60g of sugar to grape juice and reduce to syrup.
  21. Put grapes on dehydrater tray. Place in dehydrater for 1 ½ - 2 hours.
  22. When grapes are dried, put back in the grape syrup and put on low heat to let them reabsorb liquid.
  23. Madeira Jus method: Roughly dice 2 Banana shallots. Put 1 tsp of Sunflower or veg oil in bottom of pot add 4-5 black peppercorns. Wait until smoking; add giroles and thyme and then shallots. Let them roast slightly for a few mins on high heat. Add 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar and reduce down to syrup. 100mls of sweet madeira and reduce by half.
  24. Add 200ml reduced Veal stock and reduce down to desired consistency.
  25. Take off heat and add some sea salt. Add more vinegar if needed with taste. If too sweet through madeira, add more red wine vinegar to cut it.
  26. Get Muslin cloth and pass sauce through it.
  27. Malted Truffle Butter method: Melt butter in saucepan. Finely dice two Banana shallots and put in saucepan. Add 50mls Madeira and Black truffle juice (50mls). Add one heaped tbsp. of barley malt extract (from any health food shop). Start reducing down over a Low heat.
  28. Grate some truffle into the sauce. Put back on low heat for another two minutes. Gently bring it down. Swop into clean pot – you should have a sticky caramel like substance. When comes back to boil add 1 litre of chicken stock and reduce down to 100ml.
  29. Swop to clean pot; add 400mls of single pouring cream. Put back on small heat. L
  30. Emulsify butter 50-60g of butter into hot sauce. Use hand blender. Add 4g of lecithin to sauce and blitz again. Pass through a fine Chinnoise. Set aside until needed. Check seasoning.
  31. Pickled Beetroot Sheet and Glazed Beetroot: Put 1 raw straight beetroot (already peeled 2 1/2 inches long) into Japanese sheeter. Get a roll like pasta. Keep the ‘cylinder’ will use later. Trim off any frilly edges, we want it very clean sheet. Discard trim.
  32. For pickle – its 1, 2, 3: 1 part caster sugar (100g), 2 parts sherry vinegar (200ml), 3 parts water (300ml). Bring to boil, and then add beetroot sheet. Bring back to boil and then take off heat straight away and put aside until needed.
  33. Take cylinder – Trim. Put in small saucepan, add beetroot juice (enough to cover cylinder), add a sprig of thyme and 2-3 black peppercorns and 2-3 giroles and dash of red wine vinegar. Cook on low heat for up to 30-40 minutes.
  34. With the beetroot glaze, add a little more juice if needed for viscosity and also add one piece of roasted beetroot (horizontally sliced) and warm up.
  35. Giroles: Get a small knife and peel stem back. You don’t want to be washing mushrooms if you can try not too. They are spongy and absorb. These will be sautéed last minute – put aside until needed.
  36. Chicken Leg Mix method: Using small knife roughly chop the foie gras. Put heavy based frying pan on high heat. Puty a little sea salt on foie gras. Sear off with the chopped liver for 10-20 seconds. Keep all the fat and foie gras from pan and put in mixing bowl. Mix in chicken mix with foie gras liver and juices. Check seasoning. Get a disposable piping bag and put mix into bag. Put aside until needed. When serving take brik pastry tube and pipe in some of the chicken confit mix and serve on plate.
  37. Pastilla method: Cut into 2in width strip. Brush sheet generously with melted butter. Add a pinch of ground cinnamon. Wrap around a copper tube. Wrap as tightly as you can, don’t leave any air gaps or bubbles, but not too tightly as will crack in oven. Wrap it around the pipe twice and trim.
  38. Pop on tray seam side down in an oven at 180C for up to 3 minutes. (Use timer) and check then. Trim if necessary.
  39. When serving, take brik pastry tube and pipe in some of the pre-prepared chicken confit mix (supplied), dip in fennel pollen and serve on plate.
  40. Garnish method: Borage Flowers – remove back part of Borage Flower and just keep flower. (3 flowers per portion) Keep them refrigerated in a covered plastic container on a damp jaycloth.
  41. Green sorrel de Belville – 7 leaves. Put them on damp jaycloth with flowers and put away.
  42. Smoked Pigeon method: Get clean cloth and drain off any liquids coming out of pigeon crown when you remove from Waterbath, as it won’t caramelise later on.
  43. Place in wooden wine box with hay and couple of sprigs of thyme and use blow torch to light hay around pigeon. Close box.
  44. Leave it for 4/5 minutes.
  45. Take pigeon out and put in fresh hay. Do second smoking. (no thyme this time). Leave aside until needed.
  46. Panfried Pigeon method: Next get your smoked crown, legs and heart. Get a hot medium pan with sunflower oil, put crown in hot pan - start with back end, then onto side (hold with a spoon if necessary), to try and get a nice golden brown colour all over, Turn back right side up and add legs – skin side down.
  47. Add salt and pepper to pan. Put 1 ½ tbsp. of butter into pan and baste crown and legs with butter for a minute and then remove.
  48. Add heart into brown butter and remove after 15 seconds. Should be fairly rare. Pop in oven to keep warm for 4 minutes. Take quail out of oven and set aside.
  49. TO PLATE: Start reheating all your sauces at this stage. Start to plate up.
  50. Get a couple of trays for garnishes covered in j-cloths. Any juice from quail meat into sauce that you had put through muslin. Grapes plump back up in syrup. Fry off giroles in a little butter on low heat for a minute and put on j-cloth tray. Get plate of beetroot puree on plate (two strips).
  51. Take cylinder of beetroot and piece of roast beetroot out of glaze and grate truffle over it with fine microplane (also on a metal j-cloth tray) and then plate on dish. Scatter fried giroles over dish. Add caramelized fennel (1 piece) to plate.
  52. Take Pigeon off the bone. Use the two breasts - cut breasts in half (use only 3 pieces) and then add the two legs. Pop on some of the grapes. Cut heart in half and add both pieces to plate.
  53. Take your brik pastry tube and pipe in some of the pre-prepared chicken confit mix. Take pickled beetroot sheet and form into a shape and place in centre of dish. Drizzle with Madeira jus.
  54. Use small tea sieve to put on some powdered Beetroot. Then blitz up malted truffle butter with hand blender to foam it and spoon over quail breast.
  55. Place sorrel leaves and flowers as garnish on dish.


This recipe is by Finnish Chef Mickael Viljanen of The Greenhouse Restaurant in Dublin. He was set as a Masterclass Challenge for the MasterChef contestants


Use your RTE ID to Join

  • Upload your style photos
  • Create and save recipes
  • Review and Comment
  • Have your say
help Whats this?
Don't have an RTE ID? register