Our builder friend James turned up out the blue the other day with two brace of partridges after beating for a local shoot.
They were a very welcome present especially as they’d have cost me around £17 if I’d bought them oven-ready from a game supplier.
Of course we had to pluck and draw them, but a pair of these fat little birds made us a fantastic Sunday lunch, with two more to go into the freezer.
I’ve spared you the plucking and drawing photographs although there are plenty of online tutorials if you too have a generous friend.
Partridge is a good introduction to game if you’re a bit worried you won’t like it because it may be too ‘high’. It has quite a subtle and delicate flavour and I like it best roasted the traditional way. Pop a couple in the oven for around 30 minutes and voila – a lovely quick lunch or supper.
Serve them on a round of toast to soak up the juices, a bread sauce flavoured with nutmeg and onion, and deglaze the pan with a little wine or stock to make a thin gravy.
We ate them with roast potatoes, steamed broccoli and roasted squash scattered with thyme. I’m drooling in an unlovely way just writing it down.
Traditional Roast Partridge
2 plump young partridges
Around 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
Salt and pepper
White bread for toasting
Wine or chicken stock to deglaze the pan + a teaspoonful of redcurrant or quince jelly
Preheat the oven to 425F/220c/Gas Mark 7.
The birds will neater and less louche if you tie their legs together. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Cut the bacon rashers in half horizontally and cover the birds to help stop them drying out in the oven.
Put them in a roasting tin and cook them for 20 minutes. Take the bacon off the birds. If it’s crispy set it aside somewhere warm. If not, put it back in the pan next to the birds. Cook them for another 10 minutes.
While they’re cooking toast a couple of slices of white bread then, using a large crinkle-edged pastry cutter, cut out two circles big enough to put under the birds.
Take the partridges out of the oven and sit them on the toast so any juices that come out while they’re resting soaks into the bread.
While they’re resting somewhere warm, deglaze the pan with a little wine or chicken stock to make a thin gravy.
Dissolve a spoonful of redcurrant or quince jelly into the sauce and serve with more jelly on the side.