To make the recipe, you roast the partridges whole and then carve them before you serve. You could just cut the birds in half, but then you'd need to negotiate all those bones. Easier, more rustic, but harder to eat. Be sure to rest your partridges after they come out of the oven!
4Hungarian partridges,chukars or 2 Cornish game hens
1/2cupgame bird or chicken stock
1/2cupchokecherry or cherry syrup
Salt to taste
2cupsfarro or whole wheat flour
1/2cupwhole milk or half-and-half
1/4pounddiced baconthick cut or slab, or other fatty cured pork
1/4cupdried huckleberries or blueberries
Salt and malt vinegar to taste
Start by taking the partridges out of the fridge and trussing them with kitchen twine. (My favorite instructions for trussing a bird are here.) Let them sit at room temperature while you make the spaetzle.
Mix together the farro or whole wheat flour, the eggs, milk and salt into a sticky, semi-loose batter: It should not look like anything you could knead. If it is too tight, add some milk. Cover the batter and let this sit for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Salt it until it tastes like the sea. Have a large bowl of ice water ready. Once the spaetzle batter has rested, use a spätzle maker or a colander with large holes to drop the spätzle into the simmering water. Once the little dumplings float to the top, skim the spaetzle off and drop into the ice water. When they are all made, drain off the ice water and lay the spätzle flat on a cookie sheet. Toss with a little oil to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Preheat the oven to 425°F while you are making the spaetzle. When the oven is hot, smear butter all over the partridges and salt them well. Arrange them breast side up in an ovenproof pan (I use a cast iron skillet) so they are not touching each other and roast them in the oven for 22-28 minutes. Use a thermometer to gauge doneness: You are looking for about 150-155°F in the thigh area of the bird.
While the birds are roasting, make the chokecherry sauce. Boil the chicken stock down by half, then add the remaining ingredients. Boil this down by half, or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Taste for salt and keep warm.
When the partridges are nicely roasted, take them out of the hot pan and let them rest on a cutting board. Pour any melted butter and juices over them and loosely tent with foil.
To finish the spätzle, heat the butter over medium-high heat and saute the bacon and onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the spätzle, sage and huckleberries and toss to combine. Heat until the spätzle are warmed, about 2-3 minutes more. Add salt and malt vinegar to taste.
To serve, put down some spätzle on each plate. Carve the partridges and arrange the meat over the spätzle. Drizzle a little chokecherry sauce around the edges of the dish. Serve at once with a big white wine, like a Cotes du Rhone blend, a buttery Chardonnay or a Viognier, a dry rose or a light red like a Gamay or Pinot Noir, or, if you are a beer drinker, a malty brown ale or Scottish ale.