Partridge with Porcini and Red Wine

The last couple of times I’ve roasted partridge I’ve found it dull and tough, without the extreme, rich gaminess of grouse or young pheasant. This recipe, casseroling a brace and making a small amount of stock with the backbone and cooking it gently for a long time in the oven was a huge success. I added mushrooms and bolstered the flavour with a few dried porcini stashed away at the back of my food cupboard. It cries out for mash and carrots and is best made one day and eaten the next.

Serves 2-4

Prep: 35 min

Cook: 2 hours

10g dried porcini

2 partridge

5 carrots

1 large and 1 small onion

3 tbsp vegetable oil

250ml red wine

4 rashers diced streaky bacon

300ml mushrooms

Place the porcini in a bowl and cover with 300ml boiling water. Cover and leave while you prepare everything else. Use kitchen scissors to cut out the partridge backbone, slicing each bird in two. Place backbones, chopped small onion and 1 sliced carrot in a small pan and cover with about 400ml water, few black peppercorns, pinch salt. Simmer steadily for at least 20 minutes to reduce and make stock. Strain. You want 250ml stock. Meanwhile, pat the birds dry, dust with flour and brown in a spacious frying pan in 2 tbsp hot oil. Transfer the birds to an ovenproof, lidded dish (I used an oval Le Creuset). Add the wine and strained mushroom stock and simmer gently, stirring the birds to loosen the flour to thicken the liquid. Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan and soften the onion, cooking with the bacon until the bacon fat has run. Stir in the cleaned mushrooms and toss around for a few minutes until appearing damp and shrinking slightly. Stir in the porcini and pour the contents of the pan over the partridge, encouraging immersion. Drape a sheet over baking parchment over the pan, tucking down to touch the food and leaving an overhang to catch with the lid. Cook at 150C for at least 2 hours, preferably longer.