Thursday, 8 December 2011

Roast Red-Legged Partridge with Grapes and Chestnuts

It has been an arty week, a busy North East arty week. Hoult's Yard last Thursday to see their new show, including Amy Dover's work which I love. Lazarides on Friday night to see their latest show by Pete Hawkins which I also loved. And on Monday night the Turner Prize announcement at The Baltic, which I was very over excited to be invited to, but may have got a bit carried away with the free bar... I didn't see the streaker in the pink tutu, but did manage to eat a ridiculous amount of canap├ęs, glean where the after after party was and actually manage to get in... but unfortunately don't really remember making my way home... Although it's not every day the Turner Prize comes to town is it...




In between all of this I managed to cook some partridge for myself and The Little Idiot. It was probably a silly idea as we were late in from the show at Hoult's Yard, and the recipe is pretty complicated including sieving sauces and the like, but I persevered and we sat down to dine at 11pm... It was totally delicious though and very much worth the effort. The recipe is from The Observer Christmas food magazine that came out a few weeks ago. There is a section on Italian Christmas food which all sounds delicious. I had two partridge in the freezer that I had plucked a few weeks ago, so we were all set...




Be warned this is serious cooking, I probably should have read the recipe properly before I began. For all my cooking, I'm terrible at skim reading recipes and not getting the gist of them before I start... For these little partridge you start with the sauce and these amounts will serve 2 people.

Heat a pan to a high heat and add 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil, when the oil is hot add about 200g of cooked chicken chopped into pieces. It's a good use for leftovers, and the sauce can be frozen for use another time. You can use any meat also, partridge, lamb, pork, veal, beef, duck, venison or pigeon. Leave the meat to roast on a high heat for 2-3 minutes without touching it until they start to turn golden, then turn them and continue until they are caramelised all over, about 5-10 minutes. Then add one diced carrot, a crushed clove of garlic, a sprig of rosemary and a bay leaf. Roast for another 2-3 minutes, then add a diced shallot and roast for another couple of minutes.


Turn the heat down a little at this stage and add 20g of butter, letting it melt and foam, but careful not to burn it. Then add 125ml of white wine and let it reduce a little so some of the alcohol burns off. Add a teaspoon of flour and a tablespoon of tomato paste and turn the heat up again, cook for a minute and then add 750ml of chicken stock. I had to use stock cubes as my freezer was bare of home-made stock, which would have been much nicer. Stir and scrap up anything sticking to the bottom of the pan and bring the sauce to the boil, then simmer for about half an hour. After half an hour put everything through a sieve and then reduce to a saucy consistency...

I kept the chicken and carroty mush from the sieve and made little patties with a bit of leftover mash and cabbage the next day... It seemed too tasty to throw away.


Next for the partridge. Place a clove of garlic and a sprig of rosemary inside each of them, use one bird per person, wrap them in pancetta and tie them up with string so the legs are tied together. Heat a pan big enough to hold them both, add some oil and then brown them 4 minutes on one leg side, 4 minutes on the other leg side and then 4 minutes on their breast. Finally stand them up on end for one minute and then turn the heat off and leave them to sit on their backs for 5 minutes.


The recipe I followed roasted their own chestnuts, but the vacuum packed ones are just too easy so I used half a packet of them and heated them through in a pan with a splash of water and a knob of butter. They also used swiss chard, but as I couldn't get any I just blanched some shredded cabbage.


Put the partridges in a medium oven for 4 minutes while you heat up the sauce. Add a handful of halved white grapes to the sauce. Pile the chard or cabbage on your plate, sprinkle the chestnuts around, place the partridge on top, free of it's string and then spoon over the sauce.

It is a lot of effort in truth, but really delicious. I've decided partridge is my favourite of the game birds after this, and the flavour of it goes perfectly with the rich meaty, tomatoy sauce. The fresh, clean addition of grapes and a buttery chestnut made this a pretty tasty late night dining experience...



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