The English grey-legged partridge is a great seasonal treat when you can get it, as it’s much plumper and more flavoursome than its more common French red-legged cousins. The red-legged variety is still really tasty though and suits this dish equally well. Also, if you can’t get damsons, you can switch them for elderberries or blackberries. This garnish is ideal for any game dish.
Ingredients: Serves 4
4 whole partridge, oven-ready
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
For the dauphinoise
4 parsnips, peeled
2 large potatoes
500ml double cream
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
150g mature cheddar cheese, grated
For the sauce
4 tblsp damson or redcurrant jelly
75ml red wine vinegar
½ bottle port
500ml game or beef stock
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bunch watercress
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°c/gas mark 3. To make the dauphinoise, slice the parsnips and potato very thinly. In a large saucepan bring the cream and garlic to the boil. Drop the parsnip and potato into the pan and simmer for 5 minutes making sure that the potatoes and parsnips are mixed evenly and well seasoned. Remove from the heat and place the parsnip mix in an ovenproof dish. Top with the grated cheese and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
2. Sear the partridges on all sides in a little hot rapeseed oil in a large frying pan, then remove and place on a baking tray, wrap in the bacon and roast in the oven at 160°c/gas mark 3 for 20 minutes. Remove and leave to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
3. To make the sauce, put the damson jelly, red wine vinegar and port into a saucepan and reduce by three quarters over a high heat. Add the stock and thyme to the pan and continue to reduce until a strong flavour and glossy sauce is achieved. Remove from the heat and pass through a fine sieve into another saucepan.
4. To serve, place the whole bird on the plate, spoon the sauce over and finish with the dauphinoise on the side. Garnish with some freshly picked watercress.