Aromatics for cooking the pigeonlike carrot, onion, celery and a dried bay leaf (optional)
½cupdry white wineoptional
1.5teaspoonsfresh chopped thymeplus a few extra sprigs for cooking the squab
20gramsdried bolete mushroomslike porcini
1medium leekwashed and trimmed, cut into small dice to yield 4 oz
2ouncesslab baconpreferably homemade, cut into small dice
¼cupbacon drippings or lard
For the crust
2cupsflourpreferably a blend of all purpose white and whole wheat
5tablespoonschilled lard or butterchopped
Put the pigeons, their offal, aromatics, a few sprigs of thyme and white wine into a stock pot, add water barely to cover, then cover the pot, bring to a simmer and cook on low for 2.5 hours or until the legs move easily from the pigeons. Meanwhile, toast the porcini in an oven until lightly browned and toasted, about 10 minutes at 350, then cool and reserve.
Remove the pigeons from the pot, and add the porcini to the stock. Cool the pigeons until you can handle them, then remove the skin and pick the meat, leaving the breasts whole. Reserve all the meat and offal. Meanwhile, begin reducing the braising liquid with the mushrooms until 2 cups remain. Remove the mushrooms then strain the stock and reserve both separately.
Render the bacon over medium-high heat until the fat starts to render, then add the leeks and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the cognac, cook for a few minutes more to remove the alcohol, and reserve.
Melt the drippings or lard in a pan, then add the flour when hot and cook until thick, whisking constantly. Gradually add the pigeon liquid until you get a very thick gravy, season to taste with salt and pepper. The sauce should look more like a binding agent for the filling as opposed to a sauce.
Coarsely chop the pigeon breast meat and offal, add the mushrooms, leg meat, fresh thyme, cooked leeks and bacon. Finally, toss with the sauce, double check the seasoning, adjust as needed, then pack into the pie crust, top with the lid, crimp the edges well, brush the whole thing with egg beaten well without water, bake at 400 for 15 minutes then 350 for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, cool for 10 minutes and serve.
To pluck or not?
If you don't want to pluck your pigeons it's fine-they're small and time consuming. You can simmer them without browning and you'll still get a good flavor.
Feel free to substitute your favorite pie crust for the crust in the recipe. It's also fine to only do a top crust since this is a wet pie the bottom crust will not be crisp.