January 23rd, 2013
The Red-legged Partridge is a small game bird introduced to Britain from mainland Europe – it’s particularly common in France and Spain. The shooting season for partridge is a month longer than for pheasant and runs from Sept 1 – Feb 1.
Having roasted lots of game birds lately I though it would make a nice change to pot roast this brace, rather than just putting them in the oven. Pot roasting, or slow cooking in stock with vegetables, ensures the meat is tender and juicy with a delicious sauce to boot (not that there’s any reason these birds would be anything other than tasty – I happen to know that they had been dining on cavolo nero for quite a few weeks).
Pot Roasted Partridges (serves 2):
2 Partridges (oven ready)
4 slices of smoked, streaky bacon (chopped)
1 pint of home made pheasant stock (chicken would also do)
1 large onion (chopped)
2 medium carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
8 button mushrooms (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 dessertspoonful of tomato purée
a small squirt of anchovy paste
a pinch of ground chillies
1 dessertspoonful of plain flour
2 teaspoons of ground rosemary, sage and thyme (with sea salt and a few black peppercorns)
2 bay leaves
a glass of red wine
a splash of red wine vinegar
a dessertspoonful of goose fat
Brown the partridges all over in hot goose fat. Remove the birds and deglaze the pan with the wine and vinegar. Save the deglazing liquid.
In a large cast iron casserole, fry the onions in olive oil with a pinch of crushed chilli. Once the onions are translucent, add the bacon, followed a few minutes later by the garlic, celery and carrots. Stir the mushrooms in after the other vegetables have had about 4 minutes of cooking.
When the mushrooms have been coated in oil, stir in the flour and ground herbs, then put the partridges into the casserole.
Pour in the pheasant stock and deglazing liquid, along with the purée, anchovy paste and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a simmer, put the lid on and move the casserole to a pre heated oven at 120º C. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. I recommend tasting at 45 minute intervals and just before serving. The flavours will mellow with cooking and it might be necessary to add a little more wine, vinegar, tomato purée or anchovy paste. Only add a small amount at a time – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out if you add too much!