Grey partridge is the King of Partridges. It is often referred to as a grey-leg partridge, which is wrong but understandable because of the popularity of its cousin, the red-legged partridge. There is no comparison though as the red-legged partridge tends to be farmed and lacks gaminess. Savoy cabbage is the natural partner for partridge. The more you cook it, the better it tastes as the natural sugar in the cabbage caramelises and becomes sweet. Use the darkest green outer leaves as they have the most flavour.
- 4 grey partridges
- 4 sprigs of thyme12 slices pancetta
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 glass of port
- 1 Savoy cabbage,
- cored and shredded
- 1 garlic clove,sliced
- 1 tbsp finely chopped carrot
- 1 tbsp finely chopped onion
- 1 tbsp finely chopped celery
- 150g vacuum-packed peeled cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
- 500ml chicken stock
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Stuff a thyme sprig into eachpartridge, then wrap 3 slices of pancetta around it and tie in place. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy-based, ovenproof pan and sear the partridges until lightly goldenall over.
2.Turn the partridges breast down and transfer the pan to the oven to roast for 6 minutes. Turn the birds over and add the port to the pan, then roast for a further 5–6 minutes until the partridges are done: pull a leg away slightly from the breast to see if the meat looks cooked. When the birds are ready, remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
3. While the partridges are roasting, blanch the Savoy cabbage in a saucepan of boiling salted water for about 7 minutes until tender; drain well. Heat the remaining oil in the empty pan and briefly fry the garlic. Add the chopped vegetables and chestnuts and cook for 4–5 minutes until softened. Add the cabbage and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, for 10–15 minutes until the stock has reduced and the cabbage becomes slightly caramelised. Season with salt and pepper.
4 Spoon the cabbage on to warmed plates, set the partridgeson top and drizzle over the roasting juices.