Roast woodpigeon with raisins and chocolate sauce

Serves 4

Yes, pigeon and chocolate, together at last. Actually, in South America it's quite common to use pure chocolate in savoury dishes so don't be frightened off by such a combination.

4 oven-ready woodpigeons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g beetroot, boiled in their skins and peeled (they need cooking for about 1 hour)
50g butter

For the sauce

A good knob of butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1tsp flour
½tsp tomato purée
350ml beef stock
100ml red wine
100ml port
15g raisins, soaked in warm water for 5-6 hours
60g good dark chocolate (preferably 100 per cent cacao), grated

First make the sauce: gently cook the shallots in the knob of butter for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the flour and tomato purée and stir well.

Gradually add the red wine and port, stirring well. Bring to the boil and reduce by two-thirds. Add the beef stock and simmer until the sauce has reduced by half and thickened, then add the raisins.

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Season the pigeons and rub all over with the butter. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to rest.

While the birds are roasting, mash the beetroot and reheat in a pan with a knob of butter. Season with salt and pepper and put a lid on to keep it hot.

Reheat the sauce and whisk in the chocolate, until dissolved.

Remove the breasts and legs from the pigeon. Spoon the beetroot on to the centre of warmed plates, arrange the pigeon on top and spoon around the chocolate sauce.

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