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Le Pigeon

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Cooking at the Dirty Bird

Written by Gabriel RuckerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Gabriel Rucker, Meredith EricksonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Meredith Erickson, Lauren FortgangAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Lauren Fortgang and Andrew FortgangAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Andrew Fortgang
Foreword by Tom ColicchioAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Tom Colicchio


List Price: $19.99


On Sale: September 17, 2013
Pages: 352 | ISBN: 978-1-60774-445-0
Published by : Ten Speed Press Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
Le Pigeon Cover

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Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents


This debut cookbook from James Beard Rising Star Chef Gabriel Rucker features a serious yet playful collection of over 125 recipes from his phenomenally popular Portland restaurant.

Dining at Le Pigeon is a celebration of high and low extremes in cooking: Buffalo hot wings are elevated with the substitution of sweetbreads, a simple potato salad gets “dirty” with the addition of chicken livers, and a $3 Coors appears next to premier cru Burgundies on the wine list. Serious yet playful, this debut cookbook recounts the ascension of James Beard Award–winning chef Gabriel Rucker to the top of the Portland food scene and the shift of a modest neighborhood eatery to a must-visit destination. Offal-centric and meat-heavy, but by no means dogmatic, this collection of 125 recipes offers uncommon delicacies like Elk Tongue Stroganoff and Rabbit and Eel Terrine, envelope-pushing twists on classics like Beef Cheeks Bourguinon and Lamb Belly BLT, and surprisingly uncomplicated dishes like Simple Roasted Pigeon, Leek Carbonara, and Pork Tacos.

Featuring wine recommendations from sommelier Andrew Fortgang, stand-out desserts from pastry chef Lauren Fortgang, and stories about the restaurant’s raucous, seat-of-the-pants history by writer Meredith Erickson, Le Pigeon combines the wild and the refined in a unique, progressive, and delicious style.


By Tom Colicchio
There is a moment in time in the career of a chef that is unlike any that has come before or will come again. You’re not yet known. Perhaps you’re a sous-chef, bouncing around from restaurant to restaurant. Then you take a risk and open a small kitchen and suddenly you’re cooking whatever you want, coming up with four new dishes a day inspired by anything and everything—a wild mushroom you found backpacking over the weekend, a news item about Bavaria from that morning—it’s a wildly creative time. From early morning until very, very early the next morning, you’re working . . . and you’re having the time of your life. It’s a small window of time during which this all happens, after you plunk down the rent on your little space and before Food & Wine magazine discovers you and everything changes.
Soon there will be more expectations from the press and from the food industry. You suddenly realize that you’re now responsible for the livelihoods of a lot of people who are counting on you to keep this thing going. And all these considerations begin to encroach on your ability to create, to make decisions based solely on what you want to do with food. You must begin to not only allow these decisions to influence the food you make, but also to take up time that was previously devoted to creativity. Now there is a lot more to your work as a chef than simply getting into a kitchen, banging around a lot of pots and pans, and being creative. There’s no going back, and you need to find new ways forevermore to remain relevant.
I think this process happens for people in any creative field, by the way. It’s ironic that the very thing that will sustain your ability to create—a modicum of recognition—often leads to growth that then, in turn, inhibits your ability to create. Business factors aside, you start becoming self-conscious, more deliberate. It’s important to recognize this shift so you can figure out a way to preserve the playfulness and fearlessness of that time when all you had to do was bring yourself—all of yourself—into the kitchen and play.
Gabriel Rucker is living in this moment and loving it. Le Pigeon has provided a showcase for Rucker’s daily inspirations for the last five years, and through this book, we get a front-row seat to the evolution of a chef—and a restaurant—on the cusp of very big changes. The wild creativity that happens during this period in a chef’s career is often fast, furious, and unpredictable. That Gabriel has managed to put these first few years of recipes down on paper is a feat by itself and a spectacular benefit to Le Pigeon and Little Bird’s legions of loyal fans. It’s great when you can actually recognize that you’re living this moment while you’re in it. Gabriel does, and that’s what he’s celebrating in this cookbook. It’s clear that he has found a way to keep his food irreverent and fun. 
But there’s a sub-story here, too. One that starts with a scrappy fifteen-year-old who showed up in my kitchen some years ago, insisting that he wanted to work with me for the summer. He seemed bright, and so I gave Andy Fortgang a chance. He was bright. He was also hardworking, trustworthy, and not at all shy about taking initiative. Andy worked in my restaurant kitchen over summers and vacations throughout high school and post college, after he realized that he’d found his calling in the front of the house. When Andy told me that he had an opportunity to be part of something new in Portland, I was sad for me and excited for him.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that Gabriel hired Andy over the phone and put him to work at Le Pigeon the very first day they met. I suppose Andy just has that effect on chefs. And it’s to Gabriel’s credit that he recognized in Andy the other half of the equation that equals a successful restaurant (or two . . . and some day, maybe more). Andy has created the structure that allows Gabriel to focus on the food. And along with that structure, he brought along his talented wife, Lauren, who became the pastry chef at Le Pigeon and Little Bird.
Gabriel and Andy have been going through this crazy time of round-the-clock uninhibited inventiveness together: Andy is the Packard to Gabriel’s Hewlitt, the Orville to his Wilbur, the Jerry to his Ben (the Stimpy to his Ren? Fill in your own partnership—you get the point), and they’ve chosen to preserve a luscious, frenetic, passionate snapshot of it. You’re holding it in your hands.

Simple Roasted Pigeon
Gabriel likes cooking pigeons.
So much so that he tattooed pigeons on his body. So much so that he opened a restaurant called Le Pigeon. We joke that our pigeons come from under the Burnside Bridge, but we actually get them from Palmetto Farms in South Carolina via Nicky USA (www.nickyusa.com). They come to us with their heads and feet still on, with all the goodies still inside, hence our use of hearts and livers. Pigeons have just the right amount of gaminess (similar to duck, but slightly lighter), yet they still allow for over-the-top accompaniments. You can even stuff the bird with figs, spinach, or foie gras. If you have yet to try pigeon, now is your chance. Enjoy this simple dish on its own, or serve it with the bacon-roasted cipollini onions from the Sturgeon au Poivre recipe (page 169). Eats best medium rare. {Serves 4}
4 pigeons, cleaned, with or without the head and feet attached
Kosher salt
A pinch of ground cloves
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 sprigs thyme
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

2. Season the pigeons inside and out with salt. Sprinkle the skin with a touch of cloves and nutmeg. Stuff the cavity of each bird with a sprig of thyme and a clove of garlic. Truss the birds with butcher’s twine (see illustration opposite).

3. In a heavy pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it becomes foamy. Add the trussed birds breast side down and cook until gently browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip the birds and brown on the second side, 2 minutes more. Sit the birds in the pan breast side up and roast in the oven until they are a nice medium-rare, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Once the birds come out of the oven, baste with the butter and juices in the pan and let rest for 4 to 5 minutes before serving.

The Pigeon Pour: If pigeon (often known as squab) were wine, it would be red Burgundy, and if Burgundy were a meat it would be pigeon. Pigeon has pronounced flavors; it’s meaty, gamy, sweet, and livery, but all in a subtle way. Red Burgundy is the same; it has fruit, earth, flowers, and mushrooms, but they’re all subtle. The direction you take piegeon in a dish will dictate the Burgundy you drink. 
With simple roasted pigeon, you can’t go wrong with a nice village-level wine. One we love is Monthelie from Domaine Roulot. For Burgundy, don’t just look for the big name appellations like Vosne-Romanée, Chambolle, or Volnay. There are also lots of little appellations to consider, such as Ladoix, Monthelie, Auxey-Duresses, Fixin, or Santenay, all of which are a great value.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Tom Colicchio 
Introduction: Five Years of Le Pigeon

BBQ Celery Root, Mâche, Dulce de Bourgogne 
Radicchio, Pears, Hazelnuts, Blue Cheese Dressing 
Butter Lettuce, Pickled Garlic, Ramps 
Butter Lettuce, Lemon Confit, Grapes, Spiced Brioche 
Dirty Potato Salad 
Le Pigeon Caesar 
Tomatoes, Plums, Watercress 
Grilled Romaine, Preserved Lemons 
Cedar-Planked Zucchini, Chèvre, Almonds 
Little Gem Lettuce, Gouda Cheese Dressing 
Mortadella, Mustard Greens, Swiss Cheese 

Grilled Lamb’s Tongue, Creamed Peas, Morels 
Elk Tongue Stroganoff 
Beef Tongue Reuben 
Tongue Bacon, Brioche, Celery, Capers 
Lamb Tongue Fries, Rosemary Ketchup 
Grilled Pork Tongue, Refried Beans, Lardo 
BBQ Beef Tongue, Fried Rice 

Su Lien’s Foie Gras Torchon 
Toasted Foie Gras and Jelly 
Fig and Foie Gras Terrine 
Foie Gras Bacon, Brioche 
Chanterelle Soup, Foie Gras, Candy Cap Sandwich 
Foie Gras, Peach Chutney Puff Pastry 
Foie Gras Carpaccio  
Foie Gras, Eel Pot-au-Feu, Pears, Dumplings 
Spinach, Artichoke, Foie Gras  
Foie-Creamed Spinach 
{Gabriel’s Love Letter to Plymouth Valiants}

Simple Roasted Pigeon 
Maple-Lacquered Squab, Duck Confit Hash 
Duck Heart, Green Bean Casserole 
Duck, Duck, Pigeon 
Chicken-Fried Quail, Eggos, Foie Maple Syrup
Pheasant Gnocchi, Sake Pears 
Pigeon, Liver Crostini, Anchovy 
Pheasant, Shiitake, Umami, Mizuna 
Duck Nuggets 
Quail, Pine Nut Risotto, Marmalade 
Duck Breast, Goat Cheese Pierogies 
Pigeon Crudo, Figs, Bourbon 
Smoked Rabbit Pie, Cheddar, Mustard Ice Cream 
Rabbit in a Pig Blanket 
Rabbit and Eel Terrine 
Rabbit Blanquette, Pearl Onions, Mushrooms 
Creamed Rabbit, Polenta, Black Truffles 
Rabbit Spanakopita, Prosciutto, Truffles 
Cognac, Braised Rabbit, Prunes, Sweet Potato, Chestnut Cream 
Chicken-Fried Rabbit, Wild Mushroom Salad 
{The Basement Tapes by Andrew Fortgang}

Hamachi, Foie Gras, Truffles, Mandarins 
Radis Beurre (Ocean) 
Fried Razor Clams, Habanero Buttermilk 
Clams, Kielbasa, Beer 
Boiled Dungeness Crab 
Geoduck, Portobello, Yuzu 
Octopus, Nectarines, Porcinis 
Parisian Gnocchi, Escargot, Bone Marrow 
Lobster Roe Pappardelle, Crab, Lemon, Crème Fraîche 
Black Scallops, Crab Salad 

Potato-Crusted Sea Bass, Leeks, Bottarga 
Short Rib, Scallops, Succotash 
Campfire Trout 
Seared Oregon King Salmon, Cedar-Planked Porcini 
Anchovy-Larded Swordfish, Fingerling Potatoes, Rosemary Aioli 
Sturgeon au Poivre 
Carrot Butter–Poached Halibut, Anchovy-Roasted Carrots, Fennel 
Shrimp-Crusted Halibut, Chervil 

Pork Belly, Tripe, Fennel Jam 
Potato and Nettle Soup, Crispy Pork 
Pork Cheek, Ouzo, Feta 
Pork, Pretzel Spaetzle, Kraut Slaw 
Pork Shoulder Confit 
Pork Tacos, Condiments 
Jacked Pork Chops 
Pig’s Foot, Watermelon, Feta 
The “Le Bunk” Sandwich 
Simple Roast Pork Loin 
{The Weird and Wonderful World of Lars Norgren}
Gabriel Rucker|Meredith Erickson|Andrew Fortgang|Tom Colicchio

About Gabriel Rucker

Gabriel Rucker - Le Pigeon
GABRIEL RUCKER is the chef and co-owner of Le Pigeon and Little Bird. He worked at Paley's Place and The Gotham Building Tavern before moving to Le Pigeon.

About Meredith Erickson

Meredith Erickson - Le Pigeon

Photo © Eric Wolfinger

One of the original members of the Joe Beef staff, Meredith Erickson (center) has written for various magazines, newspapers, and television series. Currently collaborating on several books, Meredith splits her time between Montreal and London.

About Andrew Fortgang

Andrew Fortgang - Le Pigeon
ANDREW FORTGANG is the co-owner, general manager, and sommelier of Le Pigeon and Little Bird. Born and raised in New York, he worked at Gramercy Tavern, Jean-George, Aureole, and Craft before relocating to Portland.

About Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio - Le Pigeon
Tom Colicchio is chef/owner of New York's celebrated Gramercy Tavern and chef/owner of the newly opened Craft. He is the winner of the James  Beard/American Express Best Chef Award for New York City. This is his first book.


“Not many books have gotten my juices going as much as Le Pigeon; it’s a proper joy.”
—Fergus Henderson, founder of St. John restaurant and author of Nose to Tail Eating

"I’d heard nothing about this Portland, Oregon institution until the book landed on my desk and utterly awed me. The young chefs draw influence from the Fergus Henderson nose-to-tail school but introduce a whole layer of iconoclastic hipster inspiration. When reading the contents makes you salivate, you know you have a winner."
Tim Hayward, "Best books of 2013" Financial Times

“I absolutely love this book! A behind-the-scenes look at Portland’s beloved Le Pigeon restaurant, it’s fun, quirky, and delicious. With Gabriel Rucker guiding you through these beautiful recipes, you can’t go wrong.”
—April Bloomfield, chef-owner of The Spotted Pig and author of A Girl and Her Pig
“Gabriel once said to me, ‘We’re just trying to find new ways to get people to eat lots of butter,’ revealing his irreverent and over-the-top attitude to cooking (see his recipe for Bacon Butter, page 42) and life. What arrives on the plate at Le Pigeon is incredibly well thought out, sophisticated, and delicious. This is a remarkable collection of recipes and stories from one of the most hard-working and dedicated chefs I know, and his merry band of compatriots.”
—Andy Ricker, chef-owner of Pok Pok
“Gabriel Rucker, one of the hottest of the hot rock star chefs, has the humility to pay homage to the pillars of Portland’s dining scene and the brass to ‘Le Pigeonize’ every dish he cooks with his own high-spirited sensibility. Whether he’s dolloping oyster mayo on a hanger steak or turning lamb belly into a BLT, Rucker’s boisterous but disciplined cooking will both surprise you and charm the hell out of you.”
—Tom Douglas, owner of Tom Douglas Restaurants
“At Le Pigeon, Gabriel Rucker has the opportunity to cook in Oregon—a very soulful region where food and wine are in harmony with the terroir. His cuisine is all about balance, with a dash of American nostalgia. He gets it.”
—Daniel Boulud, chef-owner of Daniel

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