Roasted Breast and Confit Leg of Local Red Leg Partridge
with pumpkin fondant, beetroot, cavalo nero, chestnuts and tarragon
One of the best things about Suffolk is the big skies and changing seasons; as autumn turns to winter, local game is at its prime and an absolute joy. Good value, naturally organic, versatile and low fat too, game plays a popular part on our earthy seasonal menu.
serves 4 – 6
4 – 6 redleg partridges cut into breast fillets and legs
1-2 tins of goose fat, melted
Sea salt and black peppermill
6 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
2 – 3 large beetroot.
1 medium pumpkin
500ml good chicken stock
8 – 12 cooked chestnuts, halved
Suffolk rapeseed oil
3 large handfuls cavalo nero or kale leaves, stalks discarded
4 tbsp of reduced chicken stock
Aspall apple balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
The day before, pre-heat your oven to 150c. Snugly layer the partridge legs with pepper, thyme, bay leaves and two tablespoons of sea salt in a small deep ovenproof dish. Pour over the goose fat and cover tightly with foil. Cook for 1 ½ hours until tender, remove and refrigerate overnight. Increase oven temperature to 180c. Wrap the beetroot in foil and bake for one hour or until tender. Cool and refrigerate.
The next day, pre-heat the oven to 200c. Peel and cube the beetroot. Bring 500ml of chicken stock to a simmer in a large saucepan. Peel, deseed and quarter the pumpkin. Carefully cut into approx. 3cm cylinders. Place into a roasting tray, brush all over with melted butter, season well and pour stock halfway up the side of the pumpkin. Bake until tender, about 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from the stock and keep warm. Add the beetroot and chestnuts into the hot stock and allow to warm through.
Remove the confit legs from the set fat and place in a hot pan into the oven to crisp up.
Season the partridge breasts and pan fry quickly in hot oil whilst basting for 4 – 8 minutes, adding a good knob of butter halfway through. Timing depends on size, whether the wing bone has been left in and your desired pinkness or otherwise.
Meanwhile tear the greens into bite-size pieces and place in a very hot lidded pan with a knob of butter, a splash of oil, seasoning and a glug of boiling water - toss quickly, cover and cook for a few minutes until wilted.
Remove the breasts, once cooked to your taste, from their pan and leave to rest. Add the reduced stock to their pan, bring to the boil and add two tablespoons of oil and of vinegar. Simmer quickly and whisk in a knob of butter and the chopped tarragon. Adjust the seasoning.
To assemble the dish – scatter the vegetables and chestnuts around hot plates, add the confit legs and carved breasts. Drizzle the vinaigrette around. Enjoy with an earthy pinot noir or grenache red; alternatively try it with a rich dark Suffolk beer such as Adnams Broadside and for a sweeter palate, Aspall's Perronelle's Blush pink cyder (finished with blackberry liqueur) would be interesting.