I have a delicious recipe for Partridge that we cooked the other weekend that I thought I would share with you. It seems the British have rediscovered game with sales rocketing over the past year and it’s something I am particularly fond of. Living in the heart of the countryside it’s not difficult to find as the village butchers are well stocked and there are several local shoots. However game is not hard to find if you live in a town – Farmers Markets are a good source of game and supermarkets have also started to stock it. M&S started stocking partridge, rabbit and pheasant for the first time last year in addition to venison.
M&S haver reported that their sales of venison increased by 340% between 2010 – 2011 and Waitrose also found sales of wood pigeon increased by 40%. The boom in popularity is showing no sign of slowing down and game has several advantages over other meats – it’s lean, ‘free range’ and sustainable. What’s more it is simple to cook and is packed with flavour.
2 young partridge
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, bruised with the side of a knife
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 small bay leaves
4 thin rashers smoked streaky bacon
salt and freshly ground pepper
For the sauce:
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
a good measure – 2 fingers Scotch Whiskey
400ml game or chicken stock
1 tbsp crème fraiche
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c, gas mark 6.
Stir the onion, carrot and ginger together and place in a small roasting tin. Sprinkle over 2 tbsp oil.
Stuff the garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs into each partridge and place the birds onto the vegetables in the roasting tin. Top each bird with the bay leaves and then the bacon, then tie the legs together with string. Brush with oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.
Set the birds aside in a warm place to rest for 10 minutes whilst making the sauce:
Add the flour to the cooked vegetables in the roasting tin and stir well. Over a low heat, add the whiskey to deglaze the pan and then add the stock a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are all combined. Bring the sauce to simmering until thickened.
Now pass the mixture through a sieve into a small saucepan, pressing it through gently so that just the squashed vegetables are left in the sieve.
Bring the sauce back to simmering and add the crème fraiche but don’t boil the sauce at this stage as it may curdle.
Remove the string and the stuffing from the birds and serve with the whiskey sauce, seasonal vegetables and celeriac mash or plain mashed potato. They are also particularly good served on a spoonful of bread sauce.
Bordeaux red wines can pair very well with game and I have chosen 4 from different price brackets that marry beautifully with my recipe for Roast Partridge with Whisky and Ginger Sauce.
Chateau La Raballe 2007 (£9.20)
Chateau La Raballe is a multi award winning chateau and lies near the little town of Lapouyade.
The 2007 is a smooth, sensuous, deep claret that oozes finesse. The tannins are silky and the structure is layered and beautifully balanced. The wine is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and La Raballe 2007 has intense brambly flavours of ripe blackberries, blueberries, and spice and with hints of violets, graphite, oak and smoke.
Chateau Pessan 2006 (£15.05)
Chateau Pessan hails from Graves and is owned by the Comtes de Bournazel. Owners of the Second Growth Sauternes Chateau de Malle, who have 400 years of wine making experience behind them.
The Pessan 2006 is a deliciously velvety wine, deep and dense, perfectly balanced with hints of black fruits, spice, coffee, smoke, eucalyptus, pepper and oak. The wine is a superb buy and is starting to attract attention on the world market.
Chateau Bellefont Belcier is a Grand Cru Classé Saint Emilion that dates back to the 17th century. The vineyards lie between Châteaux Pavie and Larcis Ducasse in the commune of Saint Laurent de Combes.
The Bellefont Belcier 2006 is elegant and aromatic with notes of black cherry, coffee beans, roasted herbs, ripe plum and earth. This is a full bodied, concentrated wine and has great ageing potential.
Chateau La Fleur Morange 2007 (£46.70)
Chateau la Fleur Morange is a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé made by Véronique and Jean-François Julien and renowned consultant oenologist Claude Gros. The little vineyard lies in Saint-Pey-D’Armens and La Fleur Morange is receiving high acclaim from wine critics the world over, including Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker.
Hailed as one of the 2007 vintage’s Top Wines this is an impressive Claret with superb flavours of cassis, spice, incense, cedar and raspberry liqueur. The 2007 is beautifully structured, full bodied and fruit driven with a velvety texture and smooth tannins.