This is the dish that took me through to the Suffolk Young Chef of the Year 2017 finals. Rich earthy flavours from the pigeon and celeriac perfectly complement the fresh fruity blueberry balsamic compote.
Rub the pigeon breasts with thyme leaves, some rapeseed oil and cracked black pepper.
In a small saucepan reduce the blueberries and balsamic vinegar till thickened and syrupy. Add a little sugar if the blueberries are too tart.
Chop the celeriac and squeeze over lemon juice to prevent browning. Heat 1 tbsp oil and a knob of butter and saute the celeriac for a few minutes, add the stock, cover and cook for 5 minutes, then cook uncovered for a few minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
In a frying pan, fry the bacon on a low heat until very crisp. Remove, and in a pestle and mortar crush. Add the warm pancetta crumbs to the popcorn.
In the same frying pan, fry the pigeon breast 1 minute on each side, add a knob of butter and cook for a further 30 secs then remove. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Season with smoked sea salt and pepper. Reserve the butter from the pan.
Arrange the leaves, fresh blueberries and celeriac on a plate. Slice the pigeon at a diagonal angle, then arrange over the leaves, spoon the blueberry balsamic over the pigeon, arrange the pancetta popcorn, finish with pouring over the juices from the pan.