There is an old adage 'what grows together, goes together', this recipe is a perfect expression of just that. With funghi on the ground and pigeons nesting in the trees above, its not wonder they make a classic combination. In this dish, pearl barley risotto takes the place of the common rice grain - the nuttiness and hardiness of the barley grain is a wonderful partnership with the gamey pigeon. A perfect celebration of the forest on one plate.
To cook the pigeon, get a heavy based pan and add a bit of butter. Heat up the pan until hot and then add in the pigeon to caramelise. Add the pigeon into the pan and once golden, add butter and the herbs and baste for a few minutes. Once the pigeon is fully basted, place in an oven at 180C for 5 mins. Remove from the oven and rest for a further 5.
In the mean time, in a heavy based saucepan, melt a little bit of butter, and then add into the pan the chopped onion, chopped garlic and chopped thyme. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms and the pearl barley and continue to sauté for a couple more minutes. Add the stock gradually, stirring the pearl barley continuously until all the stock has been used and the pearl barley is soft with a slight bite (al dente).
To the risotto, add the remaining butter, cheese, mustard and lemon juice. Season well and continue stirring.
Serve in deep bowls with the carved pigeon strewn over the top. A forest feast for the senses and one that will remain in your autumn repertoire.