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Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird [Hardcover]

Gabriel Rucker , Meredith Erickson , Lauren Fortgang , Andrew Fortgang , Tom Colicchio
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 17 2013
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.

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“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

About the Author

GABRIEL RUCKER is the chef and co-owner of Le Pigeon and Little Bird. At eighteen, Gabriel began his career by dropping out of the Santa Rosa Junior College culinary program to work in his hometown of Napa at the Silverado Country Club. He left California for Oregon in 2003 and landed a job at the highly regarded Paley’s Place in Portland, where he would stay for the next two years. After soaking up as much as he could from the Paleys, he moved on and up to become the sous-chef at the Gotham Building Tavern. There he began combining straightforward American standards with classic French technique to resounding approval.
In June of 2006, Gabriel started at Le Pigeon, where his notoriety and career achieved warp speed. Food & Wine named him one of the country’s Best New Chefs in 2007. And in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, his name popped up on yet another high-profile list of overachievers, as a nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef. After three years of loserdom, Gabriel finally brought home the goods, winning the Rising Star Chef award in 2011. Though the award was a great honor, it was second to the birth of his son, Augustus Lee Lightning Bolt Rucker, also a 2011 surprise. When not at the restaurant, Gabriel can be found at home (usually watching the San Francisco Giants) with his son and his wife, Hana.
MEREDITH ERICKSON has written for the New York Times, Elle, the National Post, and Lucky Peach. She has worked as an editor and production manager for various magazines, campaigns, and television programs and was editor of The Family Meal by Ferran Adria. She is also x coauthor of The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. She splits her time between Montreal and London.
LAUREN FORTGANG found her calling early. After high school, Lauren left her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, and headed to San Francisco and the California Culinary Academy. In San Francisco, she worked at Greens, where she developed her love for both pastry and working with fresh seasonal produce. Then she went back to Alaska as pastry chef at the Marx Brothers restaurant. In 2001, she moved to New York and joined the opening team of Tom Colicchio’s restaurant, Craft. She worked there as assistant pastry chef, then held the pastry chef position at Hearth restaurant from its opening in 2003 until moving to Portland with her husband, Andrew, in 2007. She first worked as the pastry chef at Paley’s Place, before taking the pastry chef position at Le Pigeon and Little Bird. Since the birth of their daughter, Dora, Lauren has made Le Pigeon (and Dora) her focus.
ANDREW FORTGANG is the co-owner, manager, and sommelier of Le Pigeon and Little Bird. Born and raised in New York City, he began cooking at Gramercy Tavern at the age of sixteen. Following stints in the kitchens of Jean-Georges and Aureole, and upon the completion of his studies at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, he returned to Gramercy Tavern as a floor manager and director of the cheese program. He then moved to Craft restaurant, where he served as the beverage director overseeing the wine list and helped develop the beverage programs at Craftbar, Craftsteak New York, and Craft Dallas. Tom Colicchio not only hooked Andrew up with a job, but he also (inadvertently) hooked him up with his wife, Lauren, who worked at Craft when Andrew was at Gramercy Tavern. Andrew and Lauren live with their daughter in Portland.
DAVID L. REAMER is a food and lifestyle photographer whose images have appeared in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and GQ. Born and raised in New Jersey, David cooked for thirteen years before finally trading his chef’s knife for a camera. He first met Gabriel Rucker in 2001, when they cooked together at a small bistro in Aptos, California. Luckily, David convinced Gabriel to leave his home state in search of greener pastures in Oregon. The rest, as they say, is history. David lives with his wife, Meredith, and their dog, cat, and two chickens in Portland.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, well-written, and great to cook from! Sept. 26 2013
This is my favourite cookbook of the year, and the pages are already getting dirty from all the recipes I've prepared. On top of how good the food is, the book is beautiful and well-written. Love!
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5.0 out of 5 stars unique in every way Dec 25 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Unlike most other cookbooks, the recipes, ingredients are so very different and interesting. A must. have it to use or read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Joe Beef of Portland Dec 2 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a great cookbook! It's one of those books that you just like reading recipes and the snippets of information regarding the rationale behind things. It reads and feels just like Joe Beef or Momofuko but it tells it's own story and rightfully so. I may never cook out of it but just holding it and perusing it gives me inspiration. Admittedly I am a professional chef and we tend not to cook out of cookbooks but "lift" ideas and tweak them just enough to pretend they are ours. This is a great book to "lift" ideas out of...it's just full of wicked pairings and flavour combinations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A cooks cookbook Nov. 8 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
an excellent cooking manual-clear and concise-I would rate it number two in my extensive list of cook books that I own.I would recommend this book to any experienced chef or good cook.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An ode to Portland's Le Pigeon Restaurant Sept. 17 2013
By I Do The Speed Limit - Published on Amazon.com
Fans of the Le Pigeon Restaurant in Portland, Oregon are going to fall for this lovingly-created book that highlights the best of the first five years of its existence. The story is told not only in the recipes, but in the beautiful pictures and stories and essays that help the reader reminisce.

It is hard to write a review of a restaurant chef's cookbook. How to balance a star rating between stunning talent and superb recipes that work in a restaurant, and what works at home? How to inform a potential cookbook buyer of its at-home-cooking value, without offending the talented chef, the restaurant staff that works so hard, and the restaurant fans? Oftentimes, chefs and restaurant staff are so close to their work, that they don't see that their supplies, their abilities, their facilities are way more sophisticated that what is the norm for a home cook. Please believe me when I say that I don't mean to offend anyone; and if you read my words carefully, I hope you can see that my review is as unbiased and informative as I can make it. It is posted here to help you make an informed choice--whether or not to BUY the book. If I wrote my review as an "advertisement" for the restaurant, I would be writing my review for all the wrong reasons. So, please, if you don't like my better-than-average "I like it, I truly do" four-star rating, let me know where my thinking is wrong by way of a comment below--and not a simple negative vote....

I usually shy away from restaurant chef cookbooks because, while the recipes are always fabulous, they are often works of art and complicated, with long ingredient lists and hard to find (and oftentimes expensive) ingredients. Excuse me, but that is why I "go out" to dinner! I like to cook, but I don't often want to spend all day in the kitchen. I also don't like spending a day shopping for special ingredients, or waiting days for an internet order to arrive. This cookbook falls into that category. So while it is definitely a wonderful and beautiful grouping of recipes, you should be aware that you are not going to find a majority of recipes that you can whip together on a week night. You may want to pick up this book simply because it is a product of your favorite restaurant and its up-and-coming chef OR you might just pass it by because most of the recipes are not simple and easy to prepare. You may want to pick it up for its lessons in creativity, as the chef is definitely insightful and intuitive.

This cookbook is a combination of the laborious works of art that I describe above, plus wonderful (Oregon and Pacific Northwest) sourcing information and tips, plus some good ole' easy favorites. You will find that most of the recipes incorporate ingredients that are plentiful (or popular) in the Pacific Northwest. You will definitely find the Le Pigeon chefs' "keeper" recipes. You want to recreate a dinner you've had there? Then, this book's for you.

The chapter titles provide some insight into the type of recipes included: The book opens with "Lettuce and Such" and it's probably the "tamest" of all. The next chapters get into the meat of things: "Tongue" (lamb, elk, beef, pork); "Fat Liver" (foie gras); "Little Birds" (pigeon, squab, duck, quail, pheasant); "Rabbit" (smoked, in a terrine with eel, braised, chicken-fried, etc.); "Little Terry" ( fried razor clams, Dungeness crab, geoduck, octopus, black scallops, clams, escargot, etc.); "Big Terry" (sea bass, trout, king salmon, swordfish, sturgeon, halibut); "Pork" (belly, cheek, shoulder confit, foot, and a simple roast pork loin); "Horns and Antlers" ( beef cheek, heart, tripe, oxtail, hanger steak, calf's head, sweetbreads, bone marrow, rib-eye and a burger); "Lamb" (ground, shank, neck, belly, brains, etc.); "Veg" (eleven fairly sophisticated vegetable dishes), and last but not least "Choco, Tart, Profit" ( a nice grouping of sorbets, ice creams, a pie and a cake.)

Ingredient lists are long, but precise and accurate. There are full-color pictures for most of the recipes. Layout and type style make the recipe instructions easy to follow.

I picked up this book because I am interested in unusual cuts of pork and beef and in recipes using more unusual meats. From the paragraph above, you can tell I found that plenty of recipes to feed my interest. I won't be buying this book, though: While I consider myself an experienced cook, I am still a home cook. These recipes are too involved for my taste. Plus, I live in Texas, so most of the fresh fish and seafood chapters are out of bounds for me because we don't see much West Coast product here. And the "Fat Liver" chapter I wouldn't use because I'm not going to indulge in foie gras (except on rare occasions when visiting a top notch restaurant).

All in all, it was a very interesting cookbook to browse through, but it is not my style. I had to give it a four-star rating though, because I think it would be of interest to people in and around Portland--and I surely wouldn't want to dissuade those people from considering this book. Plus a lot of work went into creating this book.

**I received a temporary download of this cookbook from the publisher, through NetGalley. I've been scrutinizing and working with this cookbook for about two months.**
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Sept. 30 2013
By I. Darren - Published on Amazon.com
Here is a book that any real foodie will like, even though some of the wonderful photographs might be viewed as a little creepy or scary by many.

So, what do you get from this richly-illustrated, thick tome written by some of the team who create the culinary magic at the Portland, Oregon-based "Le Pigeon" restaurant? Things start with a genuinely interesting little introduction that explains the history of the restaurant to date and, unlike many books, this is not "ego city". Then it is straight to the kitchen to get cooking.

The recipes are split into curiously-named chapters called "Lettuce and Such", "Tongue", "Fat Liver", Little Birds", "Rabbit", "Little Terry", "Big Terry", "Pork", "Horns and Antlers", "Lamb", "Veg" and "Choco, Tart, Profit". Some but not all may be fairly self-explanatory... Many of the recipes will appear "high end" and "exclusive dining" and yet when you look at the ingredients they might be everyday items that the typical consumer would avoid if they saw it in the food store. Not that many people like cooking tongue, for example, yet it sure is a versatile part and a shame to ignore it.

This is a book you need to really read through, at least once, to get the most out of it. There is plenty of strange terminology (at least to this reviewer) and many funny anecdotes tucked away where you least expect them, such as a customer finding a bullet lodged in a long-cooked piece of tongue (!). If you are prepared to "push the envelope" a bit and trust in the authors then you will not be disappointed. This is one of those very few books that can be classed as "truly different", an inner sanctum for foodies and food curious people, yet the authors did not need to rely on tricks or strange food combinations to create this masterpiece. The food speaks for itself.

In some ways the sheer, stark nature of some of the photographs is more "alarming" than the recipes and their textual descriptions. Cooked pigeon legs sticking out of a plastic container is not a typical image for a cookbook, that is for sure. Yet the photographs are artwork in their own right, such as that used to illustrate "Rabbit and Eel Terrine".

It is unfortunate that our usual niggles exist in this book (lack of an estimated preparation/cooking time and use of sole U.S. measures) but this book remains sufficiently different, engaging and detailed that you just want more, more and more. The instructions given are clear, to-the-point but through so as long as you can follow a recipe and don't burn water you would have no problems.

This won't be a book for everybody and if the idea of cooking "less common" ingredients is possibly not for you, consider checking this book out in a bookstore first. There are more "common" ingredient recipes inside too, but for this author at least part of the charm and appeal is the use of "less common" ingredients.

One must underline that this book is capable of being suitable for everybody and not just "elite gastronomes". You might, however, need to be less squeamish or picky and disassociate rabbit as just being something fluffy that hops around a field. If you only consider one out-of-the-ordinary book this year, give some strong consideration to this one.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will become a classic... Dec 2 2013
By NancyG - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great restaurant; amazing cookbook. It also has a lovely fabric cover and doesn't come with one of those annoying paper covers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cult status cookbook. One damn good book. Feb. 7 2014
By Jitti Chaithiraphant - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Not many cookbook came out in recent year reach the same cult status as White Heat, Beyond nose to tail, Au Pied de Cochon. I felt this book has it.

It's a fun cookbook and what everyday meal should look like, not commercialized meat. I want my everyday dinner to be like this. Getting chicken with feet on it. How many time you would see chicken in supermarket with feet still intact or head and neck? That's what food should look like as pure as it was over 150-200 years ago before commercialized farming started.

I feel Gabriel Rucker is a kinda chef around my neighbor, less ego. Just cook good food and make food fun. His personality has stamped all over this book. I love this book so much that I ordered two more copies and sent them to friends. After reading this book, I simply want to book a flight to PDX to visit my soul sister, eat there, and walk up to the kitchen to say hello to him. And she is a huge fan of this restaurant.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A trip into the creative process Jan. 25 2014
By Jonny Cuisine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a professional cook with a degree in culinary arts I read a lot of cookbooks and other types of foodie books from Betty Crocker to Charlie Trotter. It's easy for a Chef to become far to serious about food, to intense and then they become off-putting. In the introduction to this book you get a look inside the journey of a Chef from being in over his head to being a 2 time James Beard Award Winner. Chef Rucker has a sense of humor while he goes about cooking. The integrity and care of the ingredients, which is vital, is there but with a touch of whimsy.

True some of the recipes are almost completely inaccessible to the home cook but they provide a look into the professional kitchen that the Food network and Top Chef cannot provide. It takes time and dedication to accomplish what you see on your table as you dine out and this book is an example of the care that goes into it.
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