This is a lovely, simple recipe for roast chukar; 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
- 2 chukars or Hungarian partridges
- Kosher salt
- Celery stalks
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 4 cups water
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons demi-glace, or 1 cup stock, boiled down by half
- 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 salt. Stir to dissolve. 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 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 25 to 30 minutes. Check for doneness with a thermometer. You want the breast to be about 155°F.
- Remove the birds to a cutting board 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 sauté 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.