Roast Hampshire partridge with confit leg parcels and red wine poached pear

This is a great dish for a dinner party; it takes a little bit of preparation in advance but is well worth the effort, and really easy to put together when it comes time to serve.

Ingredients – serves 4

  • Two brace of oven ready partridge
  • Two ripe pears
  • A handful of washed spinach
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • ½ litre of duck fat or confit oil
  • A handful of fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of juniper berries
  • I sheet of good quality puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 pint of chicken stock
  • A handful of washed spinach and picked Brussel sprout leaves to garnish

This is a great dish for a dinner party; it takes a little bit of preparation in advance but is well worth the effort, and really easy to put together when it comes time to serve.

It’s best to prepare both the poached pears and the confit legs for the pastry parcels the day before you want to serve the dish. Cut the legs away from the bird and place them in an oven proof dish along with a few sprigs of thyme, half the juniper berries and a good pinch of sea salt, then cover them completely with the duck fat or confit oil. Place a lid on the dish or cover tightly with tin foil, then place in a pre-heated oven at 110c for four hours, or until the meat falls easily off the bone when prodded with a fork.

Remove the legs from the fat and drain well, then gently flake all the leg meat from the bones into a bowl being careful to watch out for shot and bone splinters, and retain four of the lower leg bones for later presentation. Add in 1 tbsp of the cooking fat, a pinch of picked thyme leaves, a little dab of grain mustard and seasoning to taste, before shaping into four pear shaped mounds and placing them in the fridge to firm up.

Once the meat has cooled and hardened its time to wrap the confit in puff pastry. Cut your sheet into four roughly equal squares, then drape over the top of each mound of confit, stretching it evenly down to the base, before trimming off any excess pastry and brushing with beaten egg to glaze. Stick one of the retained partridge leg bones in the top of each parcel to complete the ‘pear’ look and pop them back in the fridge until its time to assemble the dish.

Prepare the red wine poached pears, simply peel them and stick them in a heavy bottomed pan with the red wine, brown sugar, remaining thyme and juniper berries then simmer over a medium heat until the pears are tender and a beautiful rich purple colour, then remove from the liquor, cut into halves, remove the core and slice to create a fan effect, then store in the fridge until required. Keep the poaching liquor too as this becomes the base for the sauce.

 

When it comes time to assemble the dish you’ve already done most of the hard work, so it only takes about 25 minutes to get it on the table.

Preheat your oven to 180c, and pop in the partridge leg and pastry parcels – they will take about 20 minutes to become beautifully crisp and golden.  Pour the retained pear poaching liquor into a saucepan along with the chicken stock and a pinch of salt then reduce over a medium heat until syrupy in consistency, then retain in warm place until its time to serve.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan on the stove, then add a little oil and a knob of butter and caramelise the skin of your well-seasoned partridge until golden brown, then pop them in the oven with the en croutes for 10 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking. Remove both the leg croutes and breast crowns from the oven and leave to rest on a draining rack for 5 minutes before serving.

While the meats rest, use the partridge cooking pan to reheat your poached pear portions and wilt the spinach and sprout leaves, and bring the sauce back up to the boil.

Place a little mound of spinach on each warmed serving plate, and sit a confit leg parcel on top. Add the poached pear to the plate and scatter around the wilted sprout leaves.

 

At the last minute cut the partridge breasts from the bone and add them to the plate then spoon over the piping hot sauce and serve immediately. Enjoy!