How to Cook Partridge

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There are a number of reasons why I always feature Partridge on my menus during the season and the main ones are; taste, size and price. A whole partridge per person is about right, for me it is just the right amount of game meat to be had in one sitting. It looks equally good served on or off the bone but for restaurant presentation we always take the cooked breasts and legs off the bone prior to serving with the cooked carcase and flavourings going into the stock for added flavour.

Partridge and Celeriac

If you have read any of the other pages on game birds then you will forgive me for repeating myself when I mention adding extra fat during the cooking process. Young game birds are ideal for roasting whilst mature birds are best kept for stews, pies and braises. To that end a young partridge needs the extra fat to help retain and add moisture and that generally comes in the form of butter, goose fat and/or bacon.

Take a dressed young partridge, you can tell the age by feeling the breastbone, if it is supple to the touch then it is a young bird and suitable for roasting. Into the cavity add a couple of crushed juniper berries, a sprig of thyme and a clove of garlic. Rub the bird with the fat and cover with the bacon. Brown on all sides with plenty of oil and butter in a hot pan, place in a hot oven and cook for 15-20 minutes then allow to rest for a further five minutes. Partridge should be cooked for longer than dark fleshed game birds with only a faint tinge of pink to the breasts and legs.

For restaurant presentation we de-bone the bird then form it back together with the aid of a vegetable puree to hold the breasts in place. We use celeriac, pumpkin, salsify or flavoured potatoes as long as the flavour is subtle and allows the meat to shine through. For a simple yet equally good presentation serve with bread sauce and game chips, either way a well cooked partridge is a treat.

Content and picture Miles Collins