We had called into Charlotte’s Butchery to pick up some minced pork for some autumn sausage making. One of the real joys of Charlotte’s is that in addition to fabulously consistent meat, the meat display often has something unusual to tempt you away from your carefully planned shopping list. Today was no exception! Sat next to some very good looking duck breasts were a couple of brace of prepared partridge. Each was complete with a strip of bacon and at just £3 each they we’re crying out to be taken home!!!
These were young game birds. Confirmed by gently but firmly pressing the breast bone. When they are softly pliable you have a great candidate to roast; hard, proud and unyielding, and you have one for the pot. Either way of cooking is great, but roasting an older bird is usually dissappointing. I had been searching recipes to cook some wood pigeon that we had in the freezer and had come across a recipe from Nigel Slater which would be perfect as a basis for these 2 young birds.
The plan was to roast the birds with herb butter and cured belly pork and to pair them with some roasted caramelised pears. This would be served on top of some fried rye bread with a ‘jus’ made from the cooking juices, a dash of red wine and some sage jelly.
The bacon was removed from the birds. Some dried and fresh thyme and some juniper berries together with salt and pepper were ground using a mortar and pestle. This was then mixed with some lightly warmed butter and then smeared generously over the skin of the partridge. The bacon was then stretched with the back of a knife to thin it and make it longer and wider. It was then wrapped over the breast of the partridge. Also added, was a little pancetta to cover the rest of the breast and the legs.
They were placed in the roasting pan together with a handful of lardons. In a separate pan, a whole pear cut into 4 slices and cored was lightly sautéed in the remaining herb butter and a little rapeseed oil. When lightly coloured, they were added to the roasting pan.
The Big Green Egg had been set up for indirect cooking and brought to a temperature of 200C. The roasting pan was placed on top of the cooking grill and the EGG was closed. The birds were left to roast for 15 minutes. Whilst they were cooking, 2 slices of rye bread were fried in the pan in which the pears had been sautéed. These were then put to one side.
After 15 minutes the bacon was removed from the breasts of the partridge and slipped into the side of the roasting dish. The pear slices were turned over so both sides could be caramelised.
In a domestic oven I would probably have left the partridge like this to colour up for the last 15 minutes. In the BGE, even when set up indirectly, the heat comes from below and so anything touching the bottom of the pan will caramelise and colour. The birds were therefore turned over after 5 minutes to let the breast contact the pan directly. Next time I would do this as soon as the bacon was removed rather than 5 minutes later. This would give a little more time for the breasts to colour.
Once the birds had been roasted for a full 30 minutes the core temperature was around 76C (in the coolest areas) and around 80C in the breasts. They were removed from the pan, placed on the fried rye bread and dressed with the bacon. They were left to rest on the fried bread in a warm oven (50C) for 10 minutes. Whilst they were resting, the roasting pan was placed on the hob and the pan was deglazed with a large splash of white wine. The alcohol was boiled off and a large spoon of sage jelly was added and stired through to make a rich ‘jus’. The partridge were served in the centre of the plate on the fried bread with the caramelised pears. The fried bread had absorbed the juices that came from the birds when they were resting. The dish was finished with the white wine and sage jus together with some roasted potatoes and lentils.
This recipe is a real ‘keeper’ and fits so well with our attempts to eat more ‘seasonally’ – Partridge and a pear from the tree!!
Step 1 Add the thyme, juniper berries some Maldon salt and pepper corns and grind with a mortar and pestle. Mix the grind into the butter, warmed slightly in the microwave if necessary. Smear the butter generously over the skin of the partridge.
Step 2 Stretch the bacon with the back of a knife to thin it and make it longer and wider. Wrap these over the breast of the partridge. Pancetta can be used in the same way. Place the birds in the roasting pan together with a handful of lardons.
Step 3 Slice the pear into 4 long slices and de-core. Toss in some lemon juice. Add these to a separate pan and lightly sauté in the remains of the herb butter and a little rapeseed oil. When lightly coloured add to the roasting pan.
Step 4 Set up the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking and bring to a temperature of 200C. Put the roasting pan on top of the cooking grill, close the EGG and roast for 15 minutes.
Step 5 Whilst the birds are cooking fry 2 slices of rye bread in the pan with the pear and butter sauté juices. Place to one side.
Step 6 After 15 minutes remove the bacon from the partridge and slip into the side of the roasting dish. Turn the birds over so the breasts can be caramelised on the pan directly. Turn over the pear slices to caramelise both sides.
Step 7 Once the birds have been roasted for a full 30 minutes and the core temperature has reached 74C remove from the pan, place on the fried rye bread and dress with the bacon. Allow to rest on the fried bread in a warm oven (50C).
Step 8 Whilst the birds are resting put the roasting pan on the hob and deglaze with a large splash of white wine. Boil off the alcohol and add a large spoon of sage jelly and stir this through to make a rich ‘jus’.
Step 9 Serve the partridge on the fried bread with the caramelised pears and pour over the sage and white whine jus.
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My name is Mark and these pages reflect some of the enjoyment my wife Jackie and I have with our outdoor cooking. The idea of cooking over wood, or charcoal has a certain primeval appeal and we have been through a whole series of outdoor cooking devices and different BBQs over the years to get to where we are now!
That change to “where we are now” came with discovery of the ‘Big Green Egg®” inspired by clay cooking vessel developed around 3000 years ago in China, it now embraces the Japanese name “Kamado” actually meaning oven or fireplace.
The Big Green Egg really transformed our outdoor cooking and indeed led us to move a lot of our “indoor cooking” to our “outside oven”. So when warm enough in the UK we cook and eat outside – when cooler – we often cook outside and eat-in!
The versitility of the Big Green Egg will hopefully become apparent as you “flick though these pages”. This blog started as a simple repository for ideas and to record our cooking “experiments” but is beginning to expand to include some “tried and tested” recipes as well as those used in the cooking experiments which are included in the Blog pages!
As well as being versatile the Big Green Egg is a very “forgiving” cooking device but one which also encourages surprising consistency and opportunities for experiment.
We do hope you enjoy the site and enjoy experimenting with some of the recipes!