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partridge breast with grilled peppers

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Pan fried partridge breast fillets

Filleting poultry or game seems like such an advanced butchering skill: deboning a chicken or duck, you think, totally above my pay grade. Indeed, deboning is quite tricky, especially for people who ask their butchers to remove the skin from the chicken fillets, as I once witnessed.

But removing breast fillets from game birds is fairly easy. All you need to do is make an incision with a sharp knife very close to the breast bone, then gently prise the meat off using the knife. Cut the skin off at the back and at the wing and hey presto:  two tasty morsels and one sad looking carcass.

What to do with the carcass then? No, you don’t chuck it in the bin. I was horrified to find from one of Jamie Oliver’s campaigning programmes that’s what a lot of people do with roast chicken after they’ve eaten the breast meat. What you do is make a fantastic homemade stock, pick the cooked meat off the bone and turn it into another meal of rissoles or pastillas.

The recipe below works with any game birds - though I expect grouse is slightly too pricey to be turned into stock. Partridge, quail, pheasant or pigeon - really lovely and quite cheap. I honestly don’t know why we don’t eat more game - and it’s one thing that can’t be imported from the darkest Peru when out of season…

  • INGREDIENTS
  • Serves 2
  • For the partridge:
  • 2 breast fillets per person
  • 1 heaped tsp plain flour
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • a small knob of butter
  • For the grilled vegetables:
  • 2 large peppers
  • a dozen medium cup mushrooms
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 avocado
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • a little grated cheese (optional)

Laughing peppers

METHOD

If you got whole partridges, fillet the breasts first: make an incision with a sharp knife very close to the breast bone, then gently prise the meat off using the knife. Cut the skin off at the back and at the wing.

In a shallow dish mix the flour with the spices and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Core, seed and quarter the peppers. Trim the stalks of the mushrooms. Cut the aubergine into eights. Halve and stone the avocado. Place all the vegetables except avocado in a baking tray, season with salt and pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss them around or turn all the pieces over; add the avocado cut side down at this point. Continue roasting for another 15 minutes until cooked and tender. Sprinkle with grated cheese (if using) at the very end of roasting.

In the meantime dip the partridge breasts in the flour and spice mix so that they are coated on both sides. Heat the oil in a skillet or frying pan over high heat.

Floured partridge fillets

Place the partridge in the pan, skin side down, and press down with a spatula. Cook for 3 minutes, then flip over, add the butter and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for 1 minute and remove to a warm plate and cover loosely with foil. Let the fillets rest for 3-5 minutes. Reserve the fat left in the pan.

Grilled vegetables and partridge fillets
Arrange the vegetables on plates with the avocado half in the middle. Place the partridge breasts on the avocado half. Pour the resting juices into the frying pan, bring it quickly to the boil and drizzle over the partridge breasts.

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