After all the Christmas guests have gone and peace and quiet returned to our corner of Hampshire, Jerry and I fancied indulging in a little supper a deux. We found two lonely little partridges at the bottom of the chest freezer – a miracle we found anything in there at all after all the food our guests consumed. With our minds set on an evening with a box set, we treated ourselves this comforting little number in front of the fire.
Roast Partridge with Quince and Bacon
Ingredients serves 2 hungry countrymen or women!
2 partridge, plucked, hung and ready for the pot
2 ripe quince, diced (pear would work well too)
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, diced
a good dash of Somerset Pomona, a cider brandy (Pineau or Calvados would also be good)
half a glass of white wine
a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
a tablespoon of double cream
a handful of spinach leaves (optional)
How to prepare
Heat a skillet or frying pan which can be transferred to the oven, adding a lump of butter and a splash of olive oil. When the butter has started to sizzle, then add both partridge to the pan, spooning over the butter. Fry until the outsides are golden in colour. Place on a plate to one side to rest whilst you prepare the other ingredients.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees centigrade for an electric/fan oven or gas mark 6.
Into the pan, add the diced quince (or pear) and bacon along with a tiny knob of butter to prevent them sticking to the bottom of the pan. Fry until the quince has taken on a good colour and the bacon is on its way to being crispy. Then deglaze the pan with the Pomona and set alight with a match to burn off the alcohol. Do watch hair and eyebrows with this one! Once the liquid has had a good sizzle and all flames have died down, add the partridge back to the pan along with the white wine.
Place the pan into the oven and roast for 10 minutes – any longer and the partridge has a tendency to be as tough as old boots I think. Once the 10 minutes are up, lift the partridge out of the pan and place on a plate, under a blanket of foil. The birds need to rest whilst you crack on with finishing the sauce.
Heat the liquid in the pan and allow to simmer gently, adding the mustard and cream. Cook down for a minute or two until the sauce has thickened a touch. I like to wilt a little spinach into the sauce but feel free to omit or cook some greenery to serve as an accompaniment.
Place the birds back into the pan and spoon a little of the sauce over them to coat them in mustardy, creamy quince and bacon goodness.
Serve with a good hunk of bread to mop the sauce!