September the 1st marked the opening of the shooting season for partridge in the UK, so now three weeks in to the season they are readily available in game dealers and good butchers. Although they are not massive (you’ll need one bird per person) the meat is sweet and delicately flavoured. The introduced Red-legged or French Partridge is larger and more readily available than our native and now quite rare Grey Partridge.
This bird was introduced from the continent (France and Spain) and can be found across southern and eastern England and in eastern Scotland, current estimates put the population at around 80,000 breeding pairs plus many more birds are bred, reared and released each year on shooting estates.
This recipe is based on a classic Hungarian recipe known as Gyula Partridge after the Gyula sausage traditionally used in the recipe, you can substitute it with any other smoked pork sausage.
- 2 oz (50g) Lard
- 1 Partridge per person jointed
- 4 oz (125g) Bacon cut into strips
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 8 oz (250g) Puy lentils
- 1 Tsp grated lemon rind
- 1 Bay leaf
- 4 oz (100g) Smoked pork sausage sliced
- 1 pint (500ml) Stock
- 1 tbsp (15g) plain flour
- 1 tbsp softened butter
- 1/4 pint (75ml) Soured cream
Melt the lard in a large casserole dish or Dutch oven and brown the partridge pieces in batches and remove. Add the bacon and onion to the pan and cook until the onion goes soft. Add the sliced sausage and cook for a minute or two then return the partridge back to the pan along with the lentils, the lemon rind and the bay leaf. Add enough stock to completely cover the partridge and the place the lid on the pan and cook on a low heat or in an oven at gas mark 3 for about 11/2 hours or until the partridge is cooked through.
Mix the flour with the butter to make a roux and whisk this into the casserole to thicken the sauce. Stir in the soured cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread.