Pigeon Pie, version 2.awesome

Pigeon Pie with Bacon and Artichoke Hearts

Our Thoughts:

We couldn’t have made up a better pie than this. It’s absolutely incredible. AND it’s historically authentic. Utter win.

This is completely unlike any meat pie I’ve previously tried. The artichoke hearts are sort of a baffling yet intriguing addition. Because there are so many other ingredients, the pigeon doesn’t really get a chance to shine in its own right, but the spices help bring it forward. We used a very flavorful bacon, which was one of the strongest elements, while the egg yolks and meatballs just added some depth and body.

Overall, much more interesting and dynamic than our original Pigeon Pie recipe, but definitely for those more adventurous epicureans.

Medieval Pigeon Pie

After ye pidgeons are made fitt to put into your pye season them with grose pepper, salt, mace & nutmeggs then lay ym into your Pot; you must have palatts ready boyld and cut into what bigness you like and lay over your pidgeons with ye yolk of hard egg, e marrow and balls of meat, made of ye lean of a legg of veal. Beat in a mortar with beef suett and some bacon amongst it when ye meat is a small as for sausages. Then add as much spice as is agreeable to your taste and a few sweet herbs. You may put in artichoke bottoms. This pye must be baked in a patty pan. -Lucayos Cookbook, 1690 

My Changes: I, personally, did not include the tongue from the original recipe. However, many people swear by it as a tasty ingredient, so if you would like, feel free to add it, and let us know how it turns out! I also swapped out the beef suet and marrow for a dash of grease left over from cooking the bacon.


  • 1 springform pan with high sides
  • Pastry dough (get the recipe)
  • 5 pigeons
  • 1/4 tsp. each pepper, salt, mace, nutmeg
  • boiled palatts (tongue! – optional)
  • 3 hard boiled egg yolks
  • 3 large meatballs, preferably of veal (cooked or uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup cooked chopped bacon
  • artichoke hearts
  • 1-2 Tbs. bacon grease
  • 1 egg for glazing

Roll out pastry dough and drape over the pan. Gently press the dough into the pan to make sure it molded to the sides and bottom. Trim the excess dough and reshape into a ball- this will be your lid.

Put your pigeons in a large pot and cover with water. Simmer for around 45 minutes, or until the meat can be easily pulled from the bone. Remove all the useable meat and discard the bones.

Season the meat with your spices, then lay in the bottom of the pastry. If using tongue, lay over the pigeon meat. Crumble the egg yolk over top of the meat, then flatten or crumble the meatballs to form the next layer. Sprinkle the bacon over that, then lay sliced artichoke hearts on the very top. Pour the bacon grease evenly over the top.

Roll out the remaining pastry dough and cut into a circle the size of the bottom of the pan. Lay this circle over the pie filling, brush the edges with water, and roll the outside dough down until it touches the top crust. Pierce the top of the pie in several places to vent the steam, flute the edges in a decorative pattern, and brush the whole thing with beaten egg.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour, until the crust is golden.

18 thoughts on “Pigeon Pie, version 2.awesome”

  1. A_Boleyn says:

    A very intriguing historical recipe and a tasty modern adaptation of what seems to be leftovers. :)

  2. Chad E Davis says:

    Would you make Frey Pie the same way with the obvious substitution?

    1. Needs Mead says:

      Oh yes. I’ve been looking forward to that dish for a while now. It seems such a great, hearty cold weather dish, though, that we’ve tried to put it off for a really wintery day, of which we’ve had none so far this year! Expect the pie in any case, though… :)

  3. Brian @ Cast Iron Therapy says:

    Utterly delicious, and I love the idea of artichokes in a pie!

  4. Bilbo says:


    1. Needs Mead says:

      Hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it! Pigeon meat turns out to be dark, silky, and delicious.

  5. Elise says:

    Tongue is AMAZING, and I don’t mean to imply that it’s “amazing once you get used to it” or “challenging but worthy.” Tongue meat comes from the muscle deep in the tongue, not the nubbly outside that makes you think ‘ew’, and is tender, toothsome, and melting.

    Of course, you do have to cook it for a long time. It’s a fatty cut, but it’s best simmered or braised for a few hours.

    1. ChoppedGinger says:

      Elise, my grandfather absolutely loved tongue, and I like it as well, despite the long cook time. You may have noticed from the changes in other recipes, we do live in a house of people that are less culinarily adventurous than we are, and we often cater to their tastes. I am positive that tongue would be a fantastic addition to this pie! We are also (still!) in search of proper butcher that can regularly provide unusual cuts of meat.

      1. koipondsushi says:

        As for a butcher, have you tried your local ethic food shops? Tongue is a popular Mexican cuisine ingredient and even though I live in small WI town, my local Hmong grocery stores have unique items for sale like carp, eels and a great substitute for this dish, black chickens. Another option might be talking to local hunters. Some guys will clean their own deer but a lot send them to get processed by professionals. The places to do that kind of work tend to be off the beaten path but if they deal with whole deer, they most likely deal with whole cows unlike grocery stores.

      2. kkw says:

        You guys are in the Boston area right? When I was a kid, Dewars was the place to go. No idea if that’s still the case, but they certainly used to be great, and very accommodating.

  6. Bsanda says:

    Where on earth do you even get a pigeon to cook?

    1. David F. says:

      If you happen to have a local Chinese grocery or supermarket, you might consider looking there for squab. Otherwise… King’s Landing?

    2. Christine says:

      I checked the D’Artagnan website. They offer squab and wild scottish wood pigeon.

  7. harbqll says:

    Can you clarify a bit on the veal meatballs? Are you just talking about using ground veal here, or is this some sort of Northeastern/Bostonian thing?

    1. Kristin says:

      I am not, of course, the wonderful recipe originator, but it seems like veal meatballs were chosen just to stay faithful to the original old-timey recipe.

      A traditional, good Italian meatball is a mix of beef, veal and pork, though! (And if I ever make this recipe, I’ll probably go with that mix.) I have seen veal-only meatballs before, but it’s not really a *thing*, so far as I’m aware.

  8. harbqll says:

    After Action Review: I couldn’t find pigeon. My back-up plan was to use quail, but at the grocery store I discovered I could buy 4 quail, OR a pack of 20 chicken wings for 1/4 the price. (It’s the Deep South. Use whatcha got.) So I used 6 wings, frenched and boiled.

    As for the tongue – I tried. I honestly tried. I boiled it up for about 5 hours, then peeled it and cut away the fat and gristle, then shredded the meat. It was horrible. The stench was vile; it was actually making my stomach feel sour. I kept telling myself I’d still give it try, surely it can’t be as bad as it smells…but in the end I just couldn’t do it. I had to air out the kitchen, and wash my cutting board, the plastic bowl I was using, and even *my hands* in lemon juice to finally get rid of the stink. (As a side note, I’m known among my friends and co-workers as having a very poor sense of smell, so if *I* was that put off by it, it must really be bad.)

    So, I replaced the tongue with stew beef, cut into small morsels and simmered about an hour. (The resulting stock was used to parboil onions, so added bonus, there!) The chicken and beef were seasoned per the recipe, and added to the pie. For the veal meatballs, I wasn’t quite sure what you were talking about there, so I used unseasoned ground lamb. Bacon and artichoke hearts were also included.

    Result: Very greasy. I had to sponge off the top of the pie with paper towels when I pulled it from the oven. Next time I’ll eliminate the added bacon grease. I’m also wondering how much of it was in the ground lamb – might brown that prior to inclusion next time just to drain off the grease. Overall, a good pie apart from that. It did have the usual problem of not being seasoned to fit a modern palate, but that was to be expected. It needed onion and garlic, at least. The artichoke hearts were interesting, but I think some giant portobello caps would have been better. The springform pan idea totally rocks, and will be the way I do all stuffed pies from now on.

  9. liyosa says:

    I must say, despite my inexperience with meat pies, the outcome was much, much better than I expected. Because I’m very poor and busy (uni student reporting in :D), I ended up subbing chicken legs for the pigeon, cutting tongue out completely, and using beef meatballs. I would like to say at this point, please clarify the part about the meatballs. I was at first under the impression you had to boil it, until I stupidly later realised that, right, boiling makes it really tough to flatten. So eh, should be blindingly obvious to cooking veterans, but for n00bs like me, clarification would be very helpful :).

    The outcome, by the way, was lovely. After a misadventure with the oven involving dripping butter over a gas flame, I finally got it to cook well. I fed two friends and a housemate of mine, and they all loved it. I especially loved the short crust. So really, thank you for this excellent recipe.

  10. Vinz says:

    My boyfriend and I loved the cookbook ‘ pigeon pie recipe, so .. we just HAVE to try this one. Thanks a lot :)

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