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Roast partridge

Updated: Mon, 26 October, 2020

Roast partridge with bacon and pears is my favourite autumn dish. Partridge doesn't taste too strongly gamey and doesn't dry if cooked right. Brown it in the pan, blast it in the oven and cook the legs longer than the breast - that's the best way to cook whole partridge. A good method for roast pheasant, too.

roast partridge with pears

Autumn is game time

Game is one of the comforting things in autumn time, when nights are pulling in, you suddenly feel so chilly in the evenings that log fires need to start burning or at least heating to come on and the barbecue season is well and truly over.

Partridge irrevocably associates with Christmas (pear trees and all) even though the shooting season starts on the Glorious Twelfth, 12th August. But I absolutely adore it come October, when we really appreciate the rich dark meat that smells of the wind.

For less initiated partridge is a good place to start the game game (haha) as it's not too strong, reasonably tender and tastes much like - guess what! - chicken. But it really does and even the colour of the roasted meat is similar to chicken: white meat on the breast, darker on the thighs.

So for those who happily scoff chicken but experience the fear of the less known on their plates, the taste will be reassuringly familiar.

roast partridge wrapped in bacon

Game is seasonal

Game is also the flagship of seasonality because we don’t get to eat it all year round. That’s the beauty of truly seasonal food – you appreciate it when it turns up, as no partridges can be flown in from Peru in the middle of June.

Forgetting how things taste is the best thing about having them again in the following year, when they come back in season.

It also is guaranteed free range, happy meat. It isn't expensive when plentiful in season and it's lean, healthy, high protein food so it really should be on our menu more often than it is.

roasted partridge with pear slices

How to cook partridge?

The trick is to cook it just right. Game birds are small so it’s easy to dry them out in the oven, no matter how many bacon slices you slap on their bellies. One good method is to brine them: if you want to try, check out the brined roast pheasant recipe as both birds can be cooked in similar ways.

Pheasant is a tougher old bird though so brining isn't strictly necessary with partridge, especially smaller birds.

I find it turns out juicy and succulent if you brown it well in the pan, roast it whole underneath some fatty bacon slices for as little as ten to fifteen minutes and give it a good rest.

oven ready partridge wrapped in bacon

Browning in the pan isn't strictly obligatory but it does help kick-start cooking the legs. Obviously, dried out breast and raw legs is the least desirable outcome so to avoid it, put the partridges in the hot pan to sear it on both sides, pressing the legs onto the hot surface.

If you definitely want to skip the browning stage - smoke, smell and extra washing up - turn the oven on as hot as it will go, preheat it well and add 5 minutes to the roasting time: 15 - 20, depending on the size of the birds.

Another trick is to remove the birds from the oven when the breast is cooked, cut off the legs and return them to the oven for three minutes while the rest of the bird rests.

how to roast partridge

More game recipes

Pheasant, as mentioned above, hugely benefits from brining. Here it is, roasted, with sprouts and mushrooms, tender and juicy as anything.

Wild wood pigeon is an underrated bird. Admittedly there’s only a morsel of meat on the breast and the legs can only be used to make rather gorgeous stock, but it’s very cheap, very sustainable and makes a lovely dinner party starter.

Another bird we have too infrequently is guinea fowl. I like to roast it boned, stuffed and rolled, sumptuously filled with pork and dried fruit.

More partridge recipes

Filleted partridge breast is widely available to buy these days, so try the recipe for it pan fried, served with grilled peppers, mushrooms and aubergines.

roast partridge

Servings: 2Time: 35 minutes


  • 1 brace of partridge
  • salt and pepper
  • half a lemon
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 2 slices of streaky bacon
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled and quartered
  • a little oil
  • a small glass of white wine


1. Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/gas 9. Season the partridges with salt and pepper. Push a quarter of a lemon into the cavity followed by a sprig of rosemary and a few juniper berries. Wrap the bacon around the birds, securing with meat pins of cocktail sticks.

2. Peel and core the pears, cut into eights and place on a roasting tray with a drop of oil, a dash of white wine and any remaining juniper berries. Put the tray in the hot oven while you brown the partridges.

pears for partridge

3. Heat up a frying pan and sear the partridges on their sides for a couple of minutes on each, pressing down to get the legs browned. Place them in the roasting tray on top of the pears, breast side up, and roast for 10-15 minutes.

searing partridge

oven read partridge

4. Remove the partridges from the oven. Check the legs with a meat probe if you have one to see if they are cooked through (65C), prod with a knife if you haven’t got a thermometer to see if juices run clear. If not quite there yet (a lot depends on the bird), cut off the legs with poultry scissors and put back into the oven for 3 minutes more.

5. Let the birds rest in a warm place for at least 5 minutes. Serve with the roasted pears on the side and you’ll almost have the song…

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Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Liz - of course you can.
2 years ago
Can I use Apple instead of pears Liz
2 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Elaine - searing and then roasting for a relatively short time ensures the meat is cooked but still juicy. If you skip the searing you'll have to roast the partridge longer and it might end up dry. There is no need to cover the tin. Hope that helps!
5 years ago
Can you please tell me why I should sear the partridge before roasting rather than simply roasting. Should the birds be cooked in a covered roasting tin?
5 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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