Partridge: the Perfect Introduction to Gameby Robert Gooch November 16 2016
Partridge deserves a regular spot on every household’s meal plan. Delicate and tender, quick and easy to cook, full-flavoured but not too ‘gamey’ – there’s nothing not to love.
Partridge is also a healthier option than most farmed meats. Like most wild meats, it’s lower in saturated fat as result of the bird’s happy and active life.
Red legged or grey
In the UK, the two main types of partridge are the red legged partridge (also known as the French partridge) and the grey partridge (or English partridge). The red legged partridge is the larger and more common of the two, available throughout the season from September to February. The native grey partridge, which has a darker meat with a more intense flavour, is less regularly available but a treat when it is. To be kept up-to-date with the availability of grey partridge, enter your email address on our grey partridge product page.
Meals in minutes
Whether you choose oven ready whole birds, boned birds or breast fillets, partridge is surprisingly quick and easy to cook. Wrapped in streaky bacon or pancetta to prevent the lean mean drying out, a whole partridge roasts in just 20 minutes at 180ºC. Don’t be tempted to cook your partridges any longer or they may become dry.
An additional benefit is that is each partridge provides an ideally sized portion. There’s no guesswork in planning quantities: one per person is perfect.
If you’re cooking partridge breast fillets, meanwhile, we’d recommend two for a starter and three for a main course.
A versatile choice
Whole partridges are also wonderful pot roasted on top of red cabbage or leeks for an all-in-one meal that doesn’t create a mass of washing up.
Our boned oven-ready partridges make life even easier. Available with or without stuffing (choose from our gluten-free sausage meat stuffing with walnut and apricot or a pork-free breadcrumb stuffing with apple and ginger), they are big on flavour but couldn’t be simpler to cook or carve.
Partridge breast fillets are a versatile choice for an array of meals that can be made in minutes. Brilliant in salads, curries, stews, risottos, fajitas and pasta recipes, they offer a tasty alternative to chicken and turkey any day of the week. For inspiration, take a look at the recipes on our website.
If you like a little spice, we’d also recommend our uniquely delectable lemon and chilli partridge and pork sausages. Lower in saturated fat than most sausages, these are great for a simple supper with mash or creamy pasta.
A partridge in a pear tree
If you tire of turkey in the run-up to Christmas, why not consider delicate and tender partridge as an alternative for your festive roast?
We’re as fond of turkey as anyone (especially free range Bronze or Norfolk black turkeys) but we also love sharing something different with our nearest and dearest over Christmas. When we’re cooking for friends or family who are less familiar with game than us, the subtle flavour of a juicy partridge is a perfect introduction to the merits of game birds. An impressive centrepiece that is actually very simple to cook, the star of the carol is a star on the table too.
Mark Hix is a fan of partridge for Christmas. In a feature in the Independent, he wrote:
“In my view, making a traditional Christmas lunch can involve a lot of unnecessary hassle and work without much reward... That's why game birds work for me – they take no time at all to cook, and they have a wonderful festive taste.”
We love partridge at Christmas too. We also love it in the autumn, throughout the winter and (from the freezer) in the spring and summer too!
Ideal flavours for partridge
Fruits: pear, apple, grapes, cranberries
Herbs: juniper berries, thyme, sage, coriander
Spices: chilli, coriander, cumin, cardamom
Alcohol: cider, white wine (especially an unoaked Chardonnay or a white Rhône), Madeira, brandy, dry/medium sherry
Our favourite partridge recipes
- Traditional roast partridge, with game crumbs, bread sauce, and roasted vegetables by Matt Tebbutt
- Roast partridge, swiss chard, grapes and chestnuts by Giorgio Locatelli
- Pot-roasted partridge with leeks, cider and smoked bacon by Rose Prince
- Pot-roasted Partridges with Red Cabbage, Garlic and Juniper by Delia Smith
- Partridge with apple and chorizo by Rose Blackett-Ord
- Partridge Risotto by Game-to-Eat
- Partridge with pears and Christmas stuffing by Galton Blackiston