September 1 through to the end of January is open shooting season for a lot of game in England and we should take advantage of the plentiful supply and good prices.
We know chickens that enjoy the freedom to roam and are fed on natural grain have much more flavour than those that are penned in. Wild birds have the whole countryside to roam and eat in, so look at them as wild chickens with a stronger, fantastic flavour.
The partridge is one of the best birds to eat as an introduction to game. It’s not as strong in flavour as pheasant or grouse, especially if hung for a short time. These pretty looking fowl spend most of their life running around looking for wheat and corn to eat. This makes the legs slightly more tough and gamey flavoured than the breasts.
I separate the legs from the crown and braise them for at least one-and-a-half hours in a low oven and roast the breasts on the bone for a main course.
The braising liquor from the legs can be reduced down to make a lovely sauce.
If you have never eaten game before, I would suggest you ask your butcher for some partridge breasts and let him keep the legs for game pie mix.
Normally one bird is served as a main course, but it would be fine to use one breast as a starter as indicated in this recipe.
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PARTRIDGE AND COLESLAW
Ingredients (serves four)
Two partridge crowns.
150g red cabbage finely sliced.
1 beetroot (peeled).
1 small red onion.
20g fresh horseradish.
Oil and knob of butter.
1. Make the coleslaw by grating the raw beetroot and horseradish into a bowl.
2. Finely slice the red onion and add to the bowl.
3. Sprinkle with a good pinch of salt, mix and let stand for 20 minutes.
4. Drain off the juices and add the cabbage and mayonnaise.
5. Grate a little nutmeg into the coleslaw to give a background taste.
6. Taste and adjust seasoning.
7. Pan fry the crowns of partridge in oil and butter until browned all over. Then place in a hot oven 210c/gas 7 for 10 to 12 minutes.
8. Allow the crowns to rest for eight minutes before carving the breasts from the bone.
9. Put a pile of coleslaw on a plate and top with the partridge.