…my neighbor gave to me, a partridge and another partridge.
Well, it doesn’t really scan, but it did really happen. Now this is a real, honest and true country moment for me. My husband had spoken to my very kind and knowledgable neighbor about the gunfire that we had been hearing during the day and found out that there were numerous organized bird shoots going on around the village. She also mentioned that her husband takes part in the shoots and if we ever wanted anything – pheasant, lamb, partridge, deer, etc – just ask. The next day there was a knock at the door. It was my lovely neighbor with two gorgeous partridges! When asked what we owed her, she said nothing. Now this does not ‘fly’ with me, so I paid her in my native currency, cookies. I had made a lovely little recipe of Cocoa Kisses earlier in the day and insisted that she take them as payment. She went away quite happy to indulge in the goodies and I set to work trying to figure out how to cook partridges.
Since they are roughly 1/3 the size of a chicken, they cook quite quickly. I had no idea how to flavor them so I did what I do best and I ‘winged’ it (oh the puns are too much fun to resist, sorry readers). I briefly considered stuffing the birds with pears, but in the interest of flavor decided against it. In the fridge I had some delicious chutney butter left over from Thanksgiving – it contains mango chutney, dijon mustard, honey and butter and it’s scrumptious on buttermilk biscuits (see recipe below). I decided to use it to baste the partridges. I made a small bed of onions, seasoned with salt and pepper and placed the two little darlings on top, slathered in the chutney butter and more salt and pepper. I cut up potatoes and carrots and baked it all at 350/180 degrees for 30 minutes. I then made a gravy with the remaining chutney butter, some white wine and chicken stock, which, I must say, was amazing! My husband pronounced the meal as a real winter warmer and I was very pleased with the end result. I don’t eat much game and didn’t know if I would like it, but everything was well-flavored and very tasty. It may be sacrilege to cook a partridge in the way I have described, I hope not. If any of you out there have any tips, I am open to hear them. I never know when there may be another knock at the door and a surprise ingredient from a kindly neighbor. One has to be on their toes out here in the countryside.
Delicious Chutney Butter – taken from The Thanksgiving Cookbook by Holly Garrison (a superb book chock full of wonderful recipes for any time of the year)
1/4 c mango chutney
2 T Dijon mustard
2 t honey
1/2 lb butter
Combine chutney, mustard, and honey in a small bowl. Swirl the mixture into softened butter to create a marbled effect. Chill about 1 hour to set.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups