Roast Wonga Pigeon

Roast Wong Pigeon

Roast Wona Pigeon with root vegetables on a bed of polenta

The Wonga Pigeon is a large ground dwelling native Australian pigeon with a delicious fat breast and the most annoying call imagineable. It repetitively coos for hours on end and when flushed takes off with loud wing claps. They are also very tasty.

Gould image of Wonga Pigeon

Early settlers held the Wonga in great esteem, likening it to the wood pigeon of “home” and hunted it mercilessly. They were also shot to protect crops and being ground dwellers their numbers have decreased due to fox and cat predation. Whilst they do not hold endangered status they are protected. Word has it they are delicious eating.

Recipe from Mrs Maclurcan’s Cookery Book circa 1903

The other day, I happened to be in the garden enjoying my morning coffee when the serenity was shattered by a load crash. A hapless Wonga had flown at full speed into one of our upstairs windows, and was prone on the verandah roof in its death throes.

Pidgeon should be plucked and eaten straight away, and if the bird is still warm, the plucking will be very easy. I placed the bird in a baking dish beside the kitchen sink with a plastic bag in the sink. Carefully I plucked the breast feathers, then cut and removed the wings, legs and severed the head at the base of the neck. All of this was discarded into the plastic bag. I was also careful to remove all the remaining quills. Using my index and forefinger I removed the gut and organs and then washed the bird and patted it dry. The entire process  took less than five minutes.

Living in Jamieson requires the cook to be innovative given it is a 70km round trip to the nearest grocery store. A quick rummage through the crisper revealed a couple of beetroot, half a bulb of fennel and a yellow capsicum. I roasted these then the pidgeon and served the lot on a bed of crisp friend polenta.

After plucking and gutting the bird I cooked some polenta for a base, roasted whatever vegetables I had in the fridge and served it for lunch with nice glass of Pattriti Wines Saparavi from the Barossa Valley.


About Andrew Dwyer

I am a cook, author of three published cookbooks, historian and expedition leader. I live in Jamieson, a town with a population of 200 in a valley where two rivers meet in the Australian High Country. I am married to Jane and we have three grown ups that were once children. They all return home regularly for short visits. Life is good. NB: This site uses Australian English, so if you are American you may struggle with the spelling.
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