An easy guide to cooking teal and partridge

Roast teal with orange and watercress

Serves 2

Ingredients

2–4 teal, according to size
A little oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2tbspn port
1tbspn Cognac
250ml strong chicken stock
1tspn red-wine vinegar
1tbspn marmalade—the more orange-tasting, the better
The juice and grated zest of 1 small orange
1tspn potato flour or arrowroot,
slaked with very little water or Port

To garnish

Fresh orange segments (the orange skin and pith removed with a small knife, then each segment cut and eased out from between the inner membranes) Watercress

Method

Preheat the oven to 220˚C/425˚F/gas mark 7. Rub the teal with a smear of oil, then season them well. Using a small and solid roasting tin (or, preferably, a heavy-based frying pan), cook them on the top shelf of the oven for 7–10 minutes (depending on size), undisturbed. Remove and leave to rest, loosely covered with foil.

Put the Port and Cognac into a small, stainless-steel pan and place over a low light to warm. Ignite them and, once the flames have died down, add the chicken stock, vinegar, marmalade, orange zest and juice. Stir and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Check for seasoning and then lightly thicken the gravy with the slaked potato flour (or arrowroot) until of a coating consistency, but take care not to over-thicken.

Now, remove the foil from the rested teal, strain the sauce through a fine sieve over them and place over a low light. While the sauce is heating through, baste the birds with it until glossy. Replace the foil and finish cooking the birds over a very low heat for a further 4–5 minutes, basting a few more times. Serve the teal with its sauce, garnished with orange and watercress.

Braised partridge and bacon with white beans and green sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

250g dried white beans (cannellini, haricot or butter)
1 large carrot, halved lengthways, cut in two
2 sticks celery, cut in two
1 medium onion, stuck with 4 cloves
2tbspn olive oil
4 thick slices smoked streaky bacon (preferably cut from a whole piece), cut into chunks
4 oven-ready partridge
2 sprigs sage
Salt and pepper
3tbspn Cognac

For the sauce

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
1 small bunch basil, leaves only
10 mint leaves
1tbspn capers, squeezed dry to rid them of excess vinegar
2 anchovy fillets
1 scant tbspn Dijon mustard
75ml olive oil
A little salt to taste, if necessary, but plenty of pepper

Method

Put the beans to soak in plenty of cold water and leave overnight. Place the soaked beans, carrot, celery, onion and olive oil into a roomy, lidded pan certainly large enough to accommodate the partridge in due course. Cover with cold water by about 4cm, bring up to a boil and remove any scum with a large spoon. Allow to quietly simmer, covered, until the beans are not quite tender: about 40 minutes. Note: do NOT add salt during the cooking as it will toughen the skin of the beans.

Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Now, immerse the partridge, carefully pushing them into the beans, together with the bacon and sage tucked in around them; the partridge breasts will be proud of the soupy beans, so, now, lightly season them with salt and pepper.

Warm the Cognac in a small pan and ignite. Once the flames have subsided, spoon it over the birds (note: if you think there isn’t enough liquid in the pan, add a touch more water). Replace the lid and continue to cook the contents very slowly for a further 20–25 minutes or until the beans are fully tender (eat one!).

While the beans are cooking, make the sauce. Put the first six ingredients into the bowl of a small food processor and pulverise to a coarse paste. Add the oil, with the motor running, until emulsified. Scrape out into a pretty bowl and correct the seasoning.

Serve the dish at table, directly from the pot into hot soup plates, and hand the sauce separately. I think the dish is complete in itself, but some buttered cabbage would be a suitable accompaniment, if so desired.

** Read more recipes from Country Life