Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Bird in the hand...

(Vegetarians should probably look away now)

Great excitement here on Monday night – the blonde has made a new friend and he has seemingly unlimited access to game (she doesn’t think he’s a poacher, I don’t care if he is) and so we came to an arrangement over a brace of Partridge – she did the dirty work and I cooked them. When my father reads this I know I’m due a talking to but I am a little bit squeamish about gutting and plucking, the blonde on the other hand is keen to learn butchery and quite happy to eviscerate something when the occasion arises. She says opening the door with a half plucked bird in hand is an excellent way of getting rid of salesmen too – and who am I to argue.

Game is a relatively recent discovery for me – one that probably coincides with the Scottish one who’s also a fan. Up until last winter my imagination didn’t stretch much beyond the occasional roast pheasant, or venison stew pack, but I’ve branched out a bit since then and have high hopes for this season.

I’m well aware of and right behind the arguments about game being lean, free range, organic and generally good for you, but for me the two big advantages are that a) thanks to a good market and now the blondes new friend it’s quite cheap (average price for a brace of pheasants that will feed 4-5 with leftovers for soup is £7.50), and b) it comes in handy portions – a pheasant or wild duck will do two people nicely, partridges, pigeons, and quails come in handy one person size. Basic I know, but I spend most my time cooking for one or two people and it makes things easy.

Monday’s recipe was a Clarissa Dickson-Wright effort (from 'The Game Cookbook') and very nice it was too:

Partridges with Tomato and Pepper (for 2)

3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 Partridges
2 red Peppers cut into strips
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Juice of half a lemon
A pinch of brown sugar
2 large cloves of garlic mashed with salt, salt pepper and thyme

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan, season and brown the partridges all over. Put them to one side and cook the peppers for about 10 mins turning from time to time (no brown or black bits wanted) add the garlic and continue cooking until the peppers start to soften, add all the over ingredients including the partridges and simmer in the open pan for about 25-30 mins until the sauce is thick and jammy and the birds are done.

We had this with couscous which was excellent, and the partridges were good and juicy which was a win because they can tend towards the dry (at least when I cook them...)


  1. The meal was delicious and much appreciated. I feel slightly cheeky for enjoying it so much as I am such a sporadic cook for my wonderful friend! But I've discovered that I derive much pleasure from the mucky preparation, which sort of balances out the guilt I feel for being such a terrible hostess and cook.
    I really look forward to what you'll be cooking (and I'll be plucking) over the winter months!

  2. Me too - it's an arangement that works for me:)

  3. Vegetarian, so mainly skimmed over this post ;) Bit horrified!

  4. Sorry Verity, don't be to horrified it's all very ethical and if you're going to eat meat it's hust as well to really get to grips with it - but possibly not a very appatizing post for veggies!

  5. True...I do eat fish but I don't think I could get to grips with that. It's only recently that I've branched out into fish that doesn't come out of a tin...