Pigeons are not only the most common and abundant bird in the world; they are also among the most studied.
This is what makes them so intriguing to people who usually don’t give pigeons a second thought.
There is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to pigeon biology, which includes information about what they eat, where they live, and how fast they can fly.
But for all of these exciting facts, there is one question that remains unanswered: what does pigeon taste like?
What is Pigeon Bird and Pigeon Meat?
The pigeon bird can be found worldwide, Europe, Australia, Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world.
They live on land but hover near freshwater sources like rivers and ponds to drink water when they need it.
Pigeon birds usually have grey feathers with black spots all over them during summertime.
Still, they change to brownish colors in autumn before molting again into whitish-grey plumage, which will last until springtime arrives once more.
Pigeon meat is not a popular food in North America but has been eaten by humans for centuries worldwide.
The meat comes from pigeons that are typically killed after their final molt and then disposed of or sold as a cheap food source for humans to consume and enjoy.
The pigeon meat has a taste that may not suit every palate, but those who enjoy game bird dishes will find themselves satisfied when eating squab.
Squabs are the young domestic pigeons that have not yet reached a complete molt.
They live in many climates and thrive on various foods, from grain to fruits and vegetables.
The meat of squab is typically very tender and lean with a delicate flavor due to their lack of fat reserves.
Today, squab is part of many cuisines in many regions of the world. It is considered a delicacy in France and has been enjoyed by Chinese emperors for centuries, who often kept live squabs as pets to serve during banquets.
Can You Eat Pigeon?
As mentioned, several dishes include pigeon.
In some parts of the world, people eat pigeons as everyday fare and have no qualms about it. For example, in Spain, they would be more likely to find them prepared for dinner or lunch than an American might imagine.
In other countries like Uruguay, eating cooked birds is considered traditional cuisine at every meal, with guinea pigs not far behind on the list of usual meats eaten there.
Other cultures might eat pigeons in a dish called “pigeon porridge” or as part of a more extensive soup.
Pigeons can also stand alone as meat on your plate rather than prepare as an ingredient in another dish.
Roasted pigeon is considered one delicacy that people enjoy immensely more often than other species because its flavor goes so well with wine and many varieties of beer.
The meat itself can also be preserved by drying or salting, or smoked to make it more flavorful.
Is Pigeon Meat Good for Health?
Pigeon or squab are considered a great delicacy in some parts of the world, and they are widely used as game bird meat.
Pigeon is considered to be an excellent source of protein, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.
Pigeons have more than half the calories of chicken or beef per ounce serving but less fat and cholesterol than poultry products.
They also provide good levels of selenium which helps prevent cancer among other diseases like measles and influenza.
Also, pigeons could deliver high-quality animal feed for livestock when grain supplies are scarce due to drought conditions or other natural disasters such as floods that hamper agricultural production.
The bird’s dark meat has lower fat content than white meat from other birds, so if you’re looking to lose weight, eating pigeons might be your best bet.
Pigeons have been shown to reduce inflammation in the human body due to their high antioxidant content – this makes them an excellent choice for anyone who has arthritis or asthma.
It would be best if you avoided cooking pigeons with any oil because they will absorb it quickly and become too greasy – instead, try roasting them with salt and pepper for a healthier alternative.
Is Pigeon Healthier Than Chicken?
One common concern about eating pigeons is the fear that it might be less healthy than chicken.
The idea of a bird as food may seem strange, but in some cultures, pigeon meat has been consumed for thousands of years with no side effects on health.
Compared to chicken, pigeon meat has more benefits for the human body, and its health is better. It contains less fat, and the protein content is higher.
Pigeon can be considered healthier than traditional poultry options for those looking to reduce their intake of animal fats without sacrificing taste.
The cholesterol and fat content of pigeons is very low, and the caloric value is less than chicken.
In developing countries where red meat consumption can be limited for economic reasons, pigeons are a good source of protein.
Pigeons are also one of the best sources available, containing vitamin A (beta-carotene), B vitamins, vitamin E, and so on, which offer different health benefits depending on your needs at any given time.
Disadvantages of Pigeon Meats
Even though these birds are not considered rare, they can still present some disadvantages.
Pigeons have been known to carry parasites and other diseases which may cause health problems for humans if ingested.
This is because of their diet consisting mainly of dirt, worms, and insects found on the ground or gutters.
The meat from pigeons has also been described as tasting “gamey” due to its high concentration of hormones and unsaturated fatty acids.
Pigeons have a high risk of carrying tuberculosis, which is transferable if they break the skin and can be passed on through their droppings.
Pigeon meat is not a food that people are used to eating, which may cause them to enjoy it less than other meats.
The fact that most countries have outlawed pigeon shooting may discourage some from consuming these birds as well.
What Does Pigeon Meat Taste Like?
Although pigeon meat is most prevalent in France, it is also eaten in some Middle East and Asia parts.
It’s one of the most misunderstood meats because people don’t know what it tastes like.
Pigeon meat has a “gamey taste,” which suggests it might be more suited for cooking than eating raw as well.
Pigeon meat is lean and white, with a flavor similar to dark chicken meat. It typically has more protein than beef or lamb but fewer calories and fat than both types of meat. “Gamey chicken” is the best way to describe its flavor.
The texture is exceptionally tender (very little gristle), and the fat content in this lean bird makes it easily digestible, even to those who are not accustomed to game birds.
However, it is essential not to overcook pigeons because their delicate nature will dry out quickly if overcooked or served too hot from the oven.
But since pigeon meat is not as common as other types of meat, finding restaurants that serve it can be difficult.
You’ll have better luck if you live in France, where the dish “pigeons à la crapaudine” originated from.
How to Cook Pigeon?
Cooking pigeons is not easy as it seems. It requires some knowledge of the proper techniques and ingredients.
You can easily make a mistake while preparing this dish, which will leave you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Keep in mind that pigeon meat is exceptionally tender, and if the meat is overcooked, it will be dry.
Pigeon also has a very distinct flavor that might not suit all tastes. It should be cooked with complementary flavors to make it less gamey.
The best option for cooking pigeons is roasting or grilling, as these two methods render juicy pigeons bursting with flavor.
Roasting pigeon is the most common way of cooking pigeon, and this is how you should go about doing it:
- Pigeon (preferably wild)
- Olive oil
- Spice, herbs such as bay leaf, rosemary, or thyme
- Butter or bacon fat to grease the roasting pan before adding the pigeons. Be sure not to skimp too much. You want juicy, flavorful birds, after all.
First, prepare the pigeons for roasting. Please remove all of the organs, rinse them thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels before placing them on a plate or in a shallow container to wait until you are ready to roast them.
Now it’s time to start prepping your oven. Preheat your oven up so that when you put these birds in, they can come out as perfect as possible.
The amount of time and temperature will depend on how many pigeons you’re cooking, but ideally, the temperature should be around 450 degrees Fahrenheit
Season the pigeons with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Now it’s time to cover the bottom of your roasting pan in butter or bacon fat. I find that using a combination of both gives them an even better flavor. You can use olive oil as well.
Spread the birds out over the greased surface so that none are touching. Place any organs back inside each pigeon before adding fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or bay leaf.
Put into the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes. Depending on how the skin looks, you can turn on a broiler for an additional five minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least three to four minutes before serving.
To sum up, the pigeon has lean, tasty meat high in protein and low in fat. It’s often considered to be less gamey than other meats because the flavor of its dark meat is milder with a subtle richness and juicy texture.
You can cook pigeon meat in many ways – feel free to experiment with different cooking methods and enjoy.