+ JUMP TO RECIPE
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.
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 Twelve, 12th August. But I absolutely adore it come October, when we really appreciate the rich dark meat that smells of the wind.
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 of having them again in the following year.
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, then remove the legs with poultry scissors and return to the oven for a few more minutes while the rest of the bird is resting.
roast partridgeServings: 2Time: 35 minutes
- 1 brace of partridge, or one larger bird for two people
- 2 slices of streaky bacon per bird
- salt and pepper
- 2 ripe pears, 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.
2. Wrap the bacon around them, securing with meat pins of cocktail sticks. Peel and core the pears, cut into eights and place on a roasting tray with a drop of oil and a dash of white wine. Put the tray in the hot oven while you brown the partridges.
3. Heat up a frying pan and sear the partridges all around, making sure the legs get browned. Place on the tray on top of the pears, breast side up, and roast for 10-15 minutes.
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…