This delicious, seasonal braised dish is perfection with either red-legged or grey partridge.
This preparation is, of course, suitable for red-legged as well as grey partridges. To be frank, red is all you will find, but be assured that they will be plentiful and much, much cheaper. They’re usually a little larger than the grey, but the cooking time will not be affected.
Braised partridge with cabbage, garlic and bacon (serves 2)
2 thick slices of streaky bacon, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, crushed
A generous splash of Madeira (or a medium sherry)
A splash of white wine
A sprig or two of thyme
1 small hispi cabbage, divested of tough outer leaves, then cored, quartered and thinly sliced
Heat the butter in a large, cast-iron pot (a lidded Le Creuset one is perfect, here) and add the bacon. Allow the pieces to gently sizzle away until a generous amount of fat has exuded from them, lift out and set aside. Season the partridges with salt and pepper, place them in the pot until golden and crusted with colour on all sides.
Now, tip in the garlic and let it sizzle for a moment or two, before adding the Madeira (or sherry) and white wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the remaining crusted bits and pop in the thyme. Bring to a simmer, add the cabbage and reintroduce the reserved bacon.
Simmer until the cabbage begins to wilt and lose its stiffness, then push it to the sides of the pot to make room for the partridges. Cover to gently stew for about 10 minutes—but no more—switch off the heat and leave to rest, still covered, for a further 5 minutes. Serve directly from the pot, at table.