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A Partridge in a Pear Tree

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

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!!

………………………. if you get a chance – give it a go!

 

Partridge in a Pear Tree

December 2, 2019
: 2
: 20 min
: 40 min
: 1 hr
: Moderate

Roasted Partridge served with Caramelised Pear

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 young partridges
  • Fresh or dried thyme
  • 8 juniper berries
  • Large pinch of Maldon salt
  • 10 pepper corns
  • 50g butter
  • 3 rashers of streaky bacon or pancetta
  • 100g of lardons
  • 1 pears
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 slices of Rye bread
  • 1 tbsp sage, rowan or quince jelly
  • A large splash of white wine
Directions
  • 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.

 

Venison, Chestnut and Porcini Casserole

Venison, Chestnut and Porcini Casserole

Venison is such a lovely meat to casserole on the Big Green Egg.  The EGG seems to overcome that one problem you can have with venison – its tendency to dry out.  To be able to combine this with a seasonal ‘bounty crop’ was just too good a chance to miss.  We had been given some beautiful cubed venison which seemed to contain a mix of the more obvious stewing pieces of venison with some of the more tender braising cuts.  Unfortunately, this was all the information we had, nor did we know from which type of deer the venison came.  In reality any venison listed for braising or casseroling would be fine.  The most likely source would be shoulder venison.  We also had some  fresh chestnuts that we had picked when walking in Italy and had brought back to the UK in our cool box!  We also used our own dried porcini mushrooms that we had dried when in Italy which made the dish very special for us.

Preparation was relatively simple and was done on the stove top – but could have been completed on the EGG if it hadn’t been raining so heavily.  The mushrooms were covered in cold water and left for 5 mins.  This first water was poured away to remove any debris and then they were covered again with around 300ml of just boiled water and left for 20 mins.  Meanwhile our Dutch oven was heated and a little oil added, followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves.  We were using some homemade pancetta, but shop bought would work equally well. Once the pancetta pieces were lightly coloured and some of their fat had been rendered they were removed from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

The venison was then lightly floured with a seasoned flour and fried off in batches in the Dutch oven.  It is important to fry them until each piece takes on some colour.  These were then set aside too.  Then into the pan we added the roughly chopped onion and as soon as that was taking on some colour the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery.  Usually in a dish like this we would chop the vegetables finely – but on this occasion we wanted a combination of finely chopped for flavour and coarsely chopped for texture and visual appeal.  These were all stirred through the oils to lightly sauté.  The herbs and spices were then added and cooked for around 15 mins in total.  It may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage.   The tomato puree and some red wine were then added and the heat on the Dutch oven turned up to deglaze the pan.  In the absence of any juniper berries a slug of gin was also included.  Once the pan was deglazed the venison and pancetta were reintroduced together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large.)

Finally the mix of beef and chicken stock, together with the porcini soaking liquor was added and the whole pan was brought up to a simmer.

The uncovered Dutch oven was put into the large BGE set up for indirect cooking at around 110-120C for around 2 hours (1.5-3hr depending on the toughness of the meat).  

Around 30 mins from the end of the cooking 2 large handfuls of cooked chestnuts (these had been boiled and peeled) were added together with a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.

 

Venison chestnut and Porcini Casserole

November 25, 2019
: 6
: 40 min
: Straightforward

A venison casserole enhanced with the autumnal tastes of chestnuts and porcini mushrooms

By:

Ingredients
  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g pancetta (or smoked bacon) lardons
  • 1kg venison shoulder, cut into 2-3cm dice
  • 1-2 tbsp flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely and finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely and finely chopped
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml of mixed chicken and beef stock ! Suggest one stockpot of each
  • 1 tablespoon recurrant jelly
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 large handfuls or 1 pack of cooked chestnuts added near the end
  • 400g mushrooms sliced added at the end
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Cover the mushrooms with cold water and leave for 5 mins. Pour away this first water. Cover again with around 300ml of just boiled water and leave for 20 mins.  
  • Step 2 Heat the Dutch oven and add a little oil followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves. Once the pancetta pieces are lightly coloured and some of their fat has been rendered remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
  • Step 3 Flour the venison with flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and fry off in batches in the Dutch oven till the meat takes on some colour. Set aside.  
  • Step 4 Add the roughly chopped onion to the pan and as soon as that was taking on some colour add the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery.  Stir through the oil to lightly sauté.  
  • Step 5 Add the herbs and spices and cook for around 15 mins in total.  It is may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage.  
  • Step 6 Add the tomato puree and some red wine and increase the heat on the Dutch to deglaze the pan.  In the absence of any juniper berries add a slug of gin.  
  • Step 7 Once the pan is deglazed reintroduce the venison and pancetta together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large).  Add the mix of beef and chicken stock together with the porcini soaking liquor and bring to a simmer.
  • Step 8 Put the uncovered Dutch in the large BGE set up for indirect cooking at around 110-120C for around 2 hours (1.5-3hr depending on the toughness of the meat). When within about 30 mins of the end of the cooking add the cooked chestnuts and a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.  Heat some butter in a large frying pan and cook the chopped fresh mushrooms until they start to wilt. Season well and cook until they take on some colour then tip into the venison pan and stir through.
  • Step 9 Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the casserole is too fluid – mix a little cornflour in cold water and add some of the stock to this and then stir through the casserole and cook for 10 mins more. Serve with mashed potatoes and add some freshly chopped parsley
Italian Pork, Chicken and Chestnut Terrine – variations on an Autumn theme!

Italian Pork, Chicken and Chestnut Terrine – variations on an Autumn theme!

This is a very short follow up on the Autumn Pork and Chestnut Terrine blog from a few weeks ago which you can find here.  This was largely the same recipe and so we will not repeat that here.  The differences were simple and largely for visual appeal.  Instead of confining the pancetta lardons to a layer in the middle of the terrine, these were mixed into the terrine mixture.  Their place was taken by a thin layer of chicken breast.  This had been cut off some chicken we were going to eat that evening.  On top of the chicken layer we added a more substantial layer of the boiled chestnuts.

The final difference was that we bought enough pancetta slices this time to cover the whole terrine!  In the UK if I buy pancetta it is usually cut a little thicker than we find in Italy.  We therefore tend to stretch it and thin it a little by running the back of a knife along its length. There was no need to do that with the thinner pancetta.

We have also been asked what we would use instead of the Tuscan sausages when we cook this in the UK.  The answer is quite simple in that these Tuscan sausages are just minced pork (a mixture of shoulder and belly usually) with a generous dose of salt and pepper.  So in the UK minced pork bought from a butcher or pork minced at home.  The only point to watch is that Italian pork tends to be more fatty than the pork we have become used to in the UK.  It is this that gives it its special taste.   So if you are trying to recreate this don’t stint on the pork fat.  Indeed, if you get the chance (in the UK) add a little more!

As the sausages in Tuscany are already seasoned we have needed to add less salt and pepper to the overall mix. If using minced pork you will need to add more.  If in doubt – fry a little of the mix off, let it cool well and taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.  Alter the overall amounts of the ingredients to suit the size of your terrine.  If you keep the proportions similar to this you won’t go far wrong.

 

For the Original recipe: – Click here

 

 

Sautéed Potatoes with Onion, Garlic Rosemary and Peas

Sautéed Potatoes with Onion, Garlic Rosemary and Peas

Sometimes it is the simplest of dishes that give the most satisfaction.  This is very much one of those dishes!  It is hard to better simple roast potatoes – but this is a dish that does that!.  Indeed it would be a lovely simple supper dish in its own right!  This is a sautéed potato dish with onions, garlic, rosemary and peas.  The secret is to hold your nerve and cook it for (more…)

Slow roasted caramelised fennel – latest reflections

Slow roasted caramelised fennel – latest reflections

We have returned to this dish so often – in so many ways it has been the ‘go to’ dish of the summer!  It has also been popular with friends who have adopted the dish and have added it to their own regular cooking repertoire.  It is incredibly versatile and so easy to cook too! – see original post with recipe here

The transformation of a simple fennel bulb and a handful of small tomatoes requires no more than some heat and a heavy metal surface on which to allow the caramelising process to occur.  To balance the dish, a little salt and pepper, perhaps a teaspoon of fennel seeds and some rapeseed oil – let the magic begin!

Whilst you could do this dish in a domestic oven it is perfectly suited to Kamado cooking with a combination of bottom heat and oven cooking.

We have served it as a Tapas, as an amuse bouche, with flaked parmesan, with fish, with steak, with pork………………..

The only decision making you need is how caramelised you want to make it.  On one occasion we left it, as we thought, too long, and if anything it was better still …………….. this is just a dish that keeps on giving!!!

 

Try your own twist on how you serve it, but remember to share your best ideas with us here!

 

original post with recipe here

 

 

 

Fried liver duo with black olives

Fried liver duo with black olives

Having been pleased at the outcome of our fried and grilled calves liver recipe, I wanted to go back and try the more conventional approach.  We had reverted to grilling the meat after initial frying as the temperature of our plancha/pan had really not been hot enough when we added the liver. The situation had been made worse because (more…)

Another seasonal special – fried Mazze di Tamburo (Parasol mushrooms)

Another seasonal special – fried Mazze di Tamburo (Parasol mushrooms)

When we were in Italy we were very fortunate to be given some Mazze di Tamburo (Parasol mushrooms).  These were found in the local chestnut groves and although we had seen them growing, our knowledge of wild mushrooms is such that unless we are with someone who clearly knows what they are doing – we leave them well alone!  We can buy our fungi in the local vegetable shop (these will almost always have been found by local people who actually know that what they are picking is safe!).  These however were a gift from someone we trusted and this made them all the better! (more…)

Pork and Chestnut Autumn Terrine

Pork and Chestnut Autumn Terrine

We were in holiday in Tuscany in the late summer and early autumn in 2019.  This is later in the year than we had normally gone and it certainly felt different.  Gone was the searing summer heat and in this agricultural part of Italy everything was gearing to harvest time: grapes, olives, mushrooms and chestnuts!

We were in a region with lots of chestnut trees (more…)

Fried and grilled calves liver with black olives

Fried and grilled calves liver with black olives

This is a liver dish that you may well enjoy even if you don’t like liver!  Better still it is one of those perfect dishes that comes about when something didn’t go according to plan in the cooking.  Here it was the ‘rescue’ that made the dish – and it is now a fixed part of the way we cook calves liver on the Big Green Egg.  As someone who likes liver in various forms I find it just a little strange that there are as many people who don’t like it as there are those of us who do.  And rather like with marmite, people don’t sit on the fences, but polarise into one camp or the other!  Don’t stop reading now though, this may just be the dish that wins you over if you are a doubter! (more…)

Grilled Peppers with chickpeas, tomatoes black olives and hot spicy yoghurt

Grilled Peppers with chickpeas, tomatoes black olives and hot spicy yoghurt

We have been playing around with a few meat free dishes, such as our slow roasted caramelised fennel dish and our roasted cauliflower with truffle oil and toasted flax seeds.  But although we like vegetarian food our experience is limited.  Finding the book “Charred” by Genevieve Taylor seemed like a great opportunity (more…)

The Big Green Egg – Does Sea Bass and Bream Again!

The Big Green Egg – Does Sea Bass and Bream Again!

It is 2 years now since we did the Sea Bream and Sea Bass cook when on holiday in Italy.  I remember it as a delightful evening as we sat out overlooking the local valley with a herby smoky aroma wafting towards us as we had an early evening Prosecco! So when we were back in Tuscany it seemed a perfect opportunity to (more…)

Rosemary infused roasted chicken supreme

Rosemary infused roasted chicken supreme

It was lovely to be able to roast 2 beautiful slow grown chicken breasts – butchered as supremes, with the first part of the wing bone and the skin included.  Even better when roasted on a bed of rosemary with just a hint of wood smoke! (more…)