A partridge not in a pear tree recipe

Turkey, turkey, turkey – we may as well take residence in bloody Constantinople. This seasonal irk can be remedied by a brisk walk to the butcher or a blast into the country in the two seater.

Like all decent gentlemen, I adore a plump festive bird; however I prefer mine to be game.

Duck the constant volley of turkey and take aim at a partridge, not in a pear tree. In such occasions buy a brace of 500g birds, a dozen pigs in blankets, and 100g streaky bacon.

Before contemplating the once athletic birds nestled in the refrigerator, one must prepare the accompaniments. Preferably the day before;

Pear puree

4 ripe conference pears
50g sugar
A bottle of Perry

Put the pear, sugar and half a bottle of perry into a sauce pan. Simmer.

Meanwhile take a glass with a few cubes of ice. Slowly pour the rest of the Perry over them and sip slowly. Engage in a delicate reverie, by which time (roughly ten minutes) the pear will have softened. Pour through a sieve and blend in a magimix for 5 minutes until silky smooth. Refrigerate

Red wine jus;

2 diced shallots
1/2 bulb of garlic, squashed with the back of a knife Thyme
1/2 bottle of red wine
400ml good beef stock

Heat a saucepan and glug in some olive oil. Pop in the diced shallots, garlic, and thyme and cook until they caramelise and darken considerably.
Pour in the vin and reduce, on a high heat, until it becomes an unctuous syrup. Add the beef stock and reduce it by two thirds.
Pass through a sieve and reserve ’till lunch.

Once you are ready to eat – remove the birds from their chilled tomb; seal them in a large hot pan and move to a baking tray, popping a couple of streaky bacon slices on top and a James Martin sized knob of butter on top. Put the birds into the oven at 180 centigrade for an unlucky 13 minutes, with a couple of pigs in blankets nuzzled in and around the tray.

Wonderful side of cabbage

1 Savoy cabbage
100g bacon lardons
1 donkey carrot
1/4 celeriac

Remove the veins from the cabbage and cut into julliene (the size of a cigarette smoker’s match). Repeat the cutting size with celeriac and carrot. Using the pan in which we sealed the grouse, add a heart stopping glob of duck fat and add the lardons. Once the lardons have a caramelised edge remove. Put the carrot and celeriac, and stir wildly, finally sweating (the veg. not the chef) under a lid for 5 minutes until softened. Add the cabbage and lardons with butter. Season and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Lay out a wire baking rack over a drip tray. Perhaps the chef may feel now is an appropriate time for a refreshing cold glass of reisling to settle the nerves after such activity?

The birds should be ready and placed onto the rack. Pour the remaining butter and roasting juices over the partridge. Cover in foil and rest for 3 minutes.

I prefer to remove the legs (keeping them to eat!) and cut the undercarriage of the crown. Serve on a large plate with a poncy couple of slashes of pear purre and place the crown in the centre, the legs crossed like a guard of honour. Drizzle the thick jus over and circle the meat.

Cabbage on the side.

As usual I would advice a lyrical pinot noir to compliment the meal, but a gruff english ale would do equally well.


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