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Culture: Food with Maison Bleue's Pascal Canevet - Time to dine

The Canevets tuck in to one of their dishes
The Canevets tuck in to one of their dishes

Award-winning chef-patron Pascal Canevet shares how he’s inspired by nature’s palette and the earthy hues of winter

Midwinter can be a challenge for any cook with the lavish excesses of the festive season behind us but with cold days ahead. Why not start the new year as you mean to go on and try a new recipe or enjoy a new dining experience. Plan ‘time to dine’ with friends; making the most of midwinter dark evenings and enjoy the eclectic mix of outstanding eateries Bury St Edmunds has to offer.

While many of us find January a little sluggish, it’s a busy time for us at Maison Bleue as we prepare and plan for the months ahead. I enjoy planning the new season menu as it flows into February, the season of love, with all the glamour and promise of a good year ahead.

For me, there’s an understated excitement in developing new dishes, almost like opening a box full of magic. I take it very seriously with days spent re-crafting and balancing flavours to get just the right personality for every new dish.

Recipes are created, tweaked and carefully presented with an experienced palate and creative eye. If I’m honest, I probably spend far too long conjuring up

new dishes, carefully considering the balance of flavour, taste and textures to ensure my guests savour every mouthful.

Nature inspires me. Immersing myself in the region, its landscape, wildlife and personality is probably a familiar obsession for most chefs. We tend to love what we do, it’s a life-long passion and the seasons act as chapters, guiding us through the year. As the winter takes hold, I embrace the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, blowing away the cobwebs and taking time to soak up the breathtaking big skies, open fields, woodlands, and coastline. . . it’s significantly part of my marathon training, but that’s another story!

I love the winter season, its heather-coloured skies and sharp coldness. A heart-warming dish can lighten these long, dull days and offers the perfect excuse to dine with friends. This recipe is a rich, succulent, mouthwatering dish with earthy notes of roasted winter beetroot, wild mushrooms, and a delicious Bordelaise sauce.

Roast Wood Pigeon, Honey Roasted Beetroot & Bordelaise Sauce

Roast wood pigeon served alongside wild girolles mushrooms, honey roasted beetroot and a classic Bordelaise sauce; makes a rich and succulent dish.

Serves 4

12 wood pigeon breasts (skin off)

40g salted butter

60g Girolles mushrooms

4 cooked baby beetroot

20g honey

1 teaspoon of water

Salt and black pepper to taste

For the Bordelaise sauce:

40g of bone marrow

3 shallots, finely chopped

30cl of red wine from Bordeaux

Thyme and bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

25cl of veal stock


Poach the bone marrow in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes then place it in chilled water to cool down. Reserve.

In a small saucepan, add the red wine, shallots, thyme and bay leaf over medium heat. Cook, stirring until all liquid evaporates. Add the veal stock to the pan, season to taste and continue cooking.

Stir constantly until liquid is reduced by half. Skim and discard any foam that appears on top of the sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened enough to coat a spoon. Add the chopped bone marrow to the sauce. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Combine the honey and water in a small, very clean saucepan over medium temperature. Add the beetroot. Stir well, then cover and cook gently for 10 minutes until the beetroots are wonderfully sticky and glazed.

Add 30g of butter to a frying pan and allow to get hot. Season the pigeon and place in pan, breast down. Pan fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side until cooked medium rare, then remove from the heat and leave to rest in a warm place for at least five minutes.

Meanwhile, pan fry the girolles mushrooms with the rest of the butter for a few minutes until cooked.

To serve, arrange the pigeon breasts evenly on four serving plates. Add the girolles, glazed beetroots and finish with the Bordelaise sauce. Enjoy!

Pascal Canevet is owner chef of Maison Bleue, an intimate fine dining restaurant serving a modern French menu with an emphasis on fish.

Churchgate Street, Bury St Edmunds. maisonbleue.co.uk/01284 760623.

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