The first day of Christmas is Christmas Day, so today I am putting up a post on partridge.
The Roman cookery writer Apicius suggests either dressing the partridges in a dressing of pepper, lovage, celery-seed, mint, myrtle-berries or raisins, honey, wine, vinegar and oil – quite a dressing. It may have also been served warm like a gravy. He suggests boiling the partridge, feathers and all, and then plucking while wet.
My method involves purchasing an already plucked bird. The Indian spices make it a little exotic, but it’s still a lot easier than Apicius’ recommendations. If you’re looking for something even simpler cook them, as Nigel Slater does, simply, with lemons, clementines and thyme.
Serve this with a fresh green Titanic salad of parsley (or a mix of parsley and coriander), spring onions and iceberg lettuce.
Allow just over an hour in the oven for these birds
- 4 partridges (plucked and gutted of course)
- 500g/18 oz thick Greek yoghurt
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Few good grinds of nutmeg (follow this link if you’re struggling with your grinder)
- 1 tsp grated ginger (a microplane zester is great for this)
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed with 2 tsp smoked salt
- 1 lime
- 1 small onion
- 500g/18 oz new potatoes
- 240 ml/1 cup red wine
- 40g/¼ cup dried cranberries
- Indonesian long pepper
- Olive oil for frying
- Wash the new potatoes, cut any especially large ones in half, add to well-salted lukewarm water and bring to the boil. Cook for about a quarter of an hour and drain.
- Brown the birds on all sides in a little olive oil in a frying pan
- Pre-heat the oven to 210°C
- Cut the lime into eight segments
- Peel and chop the onion relatively finely
- Stuff each partridge with a slice of lime and some of the chopped onion
- To save washing up, mix the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, pepper and salt into the yoghurt in the tub it comes in
- Pour a little olive oil into a roasting tin and place your partridges on top
- Scatter the rest of the lime segments and the chopped onion around
- Empty the yoghurt on top of the birds
- Put into the oven for about forty five minutes
- After about twenty minutes add the potatoes in around the birds, mixing them in with the onion and lime. Don’t worry if the yoghurt starts to go slightly lumpy – it will still taste great
- About fifteen minutes after that turn the potatoes and add the red wine and the cranberries
- Ten minutes later take the birds out – if they look done turn the oven down to about 140°C (or move to the aga simmering oven) and leave to keep warm there for a quarter of an hour, or until you need to serve.