This is a lovely, simple recipe for roast partridge; I used chukars for this, but Hungarian partridges would work fine, too — as would a domestic Cornish game hen. Partridges are in many ways little pheasants, with a flavor closer to chicken than their cousins the grouse.
Also like chicken, chukars can get dry in a hurry. That’s why I advise brining the birds overnight before roasting. It will give you a lot of wiggle room in the roasting process without making the bird a dessicated mess.
Roast Chukar or Partridge
The sauce I chose to go with this recipe is an apple-based one; I like the combination of “chickeny” birds and apples. You make the sauce at the end, while the chukars are resting, so have everything ready to go before you get to that point. You really need the demi-glace for it, though. If you cannot find it at a good grocery store or make it yourself, you can buy it online.
Serve this with polenta or mashed potatoes.
Serves 2. (it can be doubled)
Prep Time: 9 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 2 chukars, Hungarian partridges or Cornish game hens
- Kosher salt
- Celery stalks
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 4 cups hot tap water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cloves
- 1 small sprig of rosemary
- 5 sage leaves, chopped
- Juice and zest from a lemon or lime
- 1 minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons demi-glace
- 3 tablespoons Calvados or other apple brandy
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- Get your tap water as hot as it’ll go and pour 4 cups of it over the remaining brine ingredients. Let cool to room temperature. Submerge the birds in the brine, cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
- Remove the partridges and pat them dry. Let them sit out at room temperature for 20 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Stick a quarter of a lemon — you can use the lemon from the brine — into each bird. Lightly salt the birds; they’ll already be a little salty from the brine, so don’t go overboard.
- Get a cast-iron pan or other oven-proof pan and lay down the celery stalks — these are to keep the partridges up off the bottom of the pan. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Check for doneness with a thermometer. You want it to be about 155°F.
- Remove the birds, tent the loosely with foil to rest, then put the pan on the stove. Turn the heat on to medium and remove the celery.
- Melt the butter in the pan and saute the shallots until the begin to brown. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Cook down by half and turn off the heat.
- Serve the sauce over mashed potatoes or polenta and under the chukars. I prefer a big white wine with this, like a Chardonnay or a white Cotes du Rhone.