The start of October means that game season is in full swing here in Scotland.
This season brings a host of ingredients to get excited about.
The word game refers to wild animals both furred and feathered that are hunted for food. The flavour that you get from these animals has much more depth than any farmed meat.
Game is wild, natural and free range, with a distinctive flavour making it a great alternative for any meat dish. As its popularity is growing with cooks and chefs alike, supplies are becoming widely available, so keep a look out for the tempting selection at your local butcher.
This week, I am sharing my recipe for Roasted Partridge, Spelt Risotto and Damson Jus. Partridges are birds in the pheasant family. They are medium-sized and so fall between the larger pheasants and the smaller quails. It is a wonderful choice for those who are new to game, as it offers a milder flavour – a great starting point for those who are maybe a little wary.
The key to roasting the perfect partridge is to keep your eye on it. It does not need a lot of cooking time, you are aiming for juicy, pink meat and remember to give your bird a nice wee rest when it comes out of the oven.
The open season for partridge shooting runs from September 1 to February 1, with October and November being the best time for eating this delicious game bird so now is the time to get roasting!
1 litre good quality chicken stock
2 banana shallots, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Sweat the shallot and garlic in the butter until it becomes translucent and soft. Add the spelt and cook in the butter for about 3 minutes. Add all of the chicken stock, turn down the heat and simmer for 2 hours until the spelt becomes swollen and has absorbed all of the liquid.
4 partridges (make sure the butcher fully prepares the birds by taking the feet off and removing all the innards
Enough oil to fry the birds
3 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic, skin on but crushed
Preheat the oven to 185C. In a pan, melt the butter in the oil and add the partridges. Season liberally with salt and brown the birds all over before transferring the pan to the oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
Take the pan from the oven and add the thyme and garlic. Baste the buttery garlic and thyme mixture over the bird making sure you coat each side and it is evenly covered. Rest the bird.
Carve the partridge as you would a chicken, removing the breasts and legs from the bones. Cover the meat with foil and set aside while you make the jus.
800ml good quality chicken stock
300ml red wine
Trimmings from the partridge
Half and de-stone the damsons. Reduce the red wine and add any partridge trimmings. Add the chicken stock and reduce by half. Strain the partridge out otherwise the sauce will become to ‘gamey’.
Continue to reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon or is the consistency of single cream. Stir in the damsons.