Edinburgh Michelin star chef Tom Kitchin shares his alternative Christmas dinner recipe - without turkey

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We asked Michelin star chef Tom Kitchin for an alternative to the traditional turkey for Christmas dinner – and unsurprisingly, he cooked up a treat for us.

Here. the owner of celebrated Edinburgh restaurants The Kitchin, Scran and Scallie and Kora talks us through his delicious recipe for ‘Partridges Stuffed with Oats, Orange and Juniper’.

“This dish is a great way to try cooking game and can be a lovely alternative to the traditional turkey for Christmas dinner, says Tom.

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“Cooking with partridge can be a great option if you are a small household, or if not everyone eats meat and you only need to cook a smaller amount.

Edinburgh Michelin chef Tom Kithin shares an exclusive Christmas recipe with us.Edinburgh Michelin chef Tom Kithin shares an exclusive Christmas recipe with us.
Edinburgh Michelin chef Tom Kithin shares an exclusive Christmas recipe with us.

“You’ll need to cook one partridge per person, but that can often make it much simpler to cook and to portion up.

“The trick with partridge is to make sure you don’t overcook it because then you’ll find the meat is just too tough.

“If you’re buying partridge, the best place to source the birds is from a local game dealer, butcher, farm shop or farmer’s market.”

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Tom, who became Scotland's youngest Michelin-starred chef aged 29, continues: “You can still enjoy this dish with all the traditional festive sides, as the flavours will marry well with roasted potatoes and root vegetables. I recommend you try making this homemade stuffing as well to really take your dinner to the next level.”

“Oats have always been an integral part of Scottish cooking, and when my Head Chef Lachlan suggested the idea of stuffing a partridge with oats it made perfect sense.

“It’s really impressive how the oats take on the flavour of the aroma of the partridge to make it a really tasty and original dish.

“I like to serve the partridge straight from the roasting tray along with baked sweet figs and oat balls, as well as the family’s favourite sides.”

Partridges Stuffed with Oats, Orange and Juniper

Serves 4


200g porridge oats

100g prunes, finely chopped

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Freshly squeezed juice of 2 oranges

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Olive oil

1 tbsp juniper berries

4 oven-ready partridges

4 pancetta rashers

8 figs, cut in half lengthways

2 long cinnamon sticks, split length ways

Fresh rosemary needles, to garnish

Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

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Put the oats in a bowl, then stir in the prunes, parsley, ground cinnamon, orange juice and zest and a good splash of oil. Crush the juniper berries with a pestle and mortar, then add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

To prepare the partridges, use a small knife to cut down either side of the bird’s wishbone and remove it. Now use your fingers to check that all the heart and stomach have been removed from the carcass.

Repeat with the remaining birds. Divide the oat mixture among the partridge cavities. Cover the back of each bird with a bacon rasher and tie in place with kitchen string, then truss the legs together for even cooking. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Roll any remaining oat mixture into golf ball-sized balls to be cooked alongside the partridges.

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Heat a heavy-based roasting tray, or 2 smaller trays, over a medium-high heat, then add a good splash of oil. When it is hot, add the partridges and turn them as necessary until they are coloured all over and the bacon is crispy. Transfer the roasting tray to the oven and roast for 12 minutes, adding any extra oat balls for the final 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, skewer the fig halves with the cinnamon stick pieces, as if making a kebab. Add the figs to the roasting tray and return it to the oven for a further 2 3 minutes until the partridges are medium rare and the figs are tender. Transfer the birds to a warm plate and set aside to rest for 5 minutes covered with kitchen foil.

While the birds are resting, return the oat balls and figs to the oven.

Serve the partridges straight from the roasting tray, sprinkled with rosemary, with the figs and the oat balls too.

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