Tandoori partridge

Partridge takes well to a tandoori treatment, and the marinade also counteracts the risk of dryness in such lean meat. This isn’t a beautiful dish but it tastes great. It’s also good served cold for a decadently messy picnic on a mild autumn or winter day: simply pull the meat off the bird with your fingers and stuff inside naan bread with rocket leaves, yogurt and mango chutney.
Tandoori partridgeServes 4
4 partridge, spatchcocked (ask your butcher in advance, or see poussin steps)
1 lime, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons roughly chopped coriander leaves
4 naan bread, to serve
sea salt flakes

For the tandoori marinade
200g (7oz) natural full-fat yogurt (not Greek)
1½ tablespoons tandoori powder
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6-cm (2½-in) piece of fresh root ginger, grated
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
Tandoori partridge
Put the birds in a shallow non-metallic container large enough hold them almost in a single layer. Dollop over the marinade and massage it into the meat. Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge to marinate for anything from 20 minutes to 24 hours.

Take the birds out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. Season the flesh with salt and squeeze a lime quarter over each bird.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Tandoori partridge

Line a baking tray with foil, place the meat in it and spoon the marinade on top. Cook for 30 minutes or so, until the meat is cooked through to the bone. Set aside to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes; the meat will relax a little and the juices redistribute evenly throughout the meat. Before serving, scatter the coriander over the meat.

Serve with warmed naan bread (place in the oven for 5 minutes or so), or with plain boiled rice. Offer dressed rocket leaves, thick yogurt and chutney alongside.

Salade landaise

Salade landaise

Les Landes is a coastal region of southwest France that is renowned for its ducks and walnuts – and this salad, with its sharp dressing, showcases them extremely well. Use whatever pieces of prepared duck you can find. Like many butchers, we sell confit duck that can be kept at home ready for quick and delicious meals. Ours come from our friend Thomas Maieli, aka Mr Duck, who also makes confit gizzards. These firm little morsels are really interesting to eat and well worth trying.

Serves 4
prepared duck, such as 2 confit duck legs, or 1 confit duck leg and 65g (2½oz) sliced smoked duck breast, and/or 150g (5oz) confit duck gizzards
100g (3½oz) crustless white bread, cut into 2.5-cm (1-in) cubes
50g (2oz) walnuts
150g (5oz) tasty lettuce (frisée is traditional), leaves separated
8 flavoursome cherry tomatoes, halved

For the dressing
1 banana shallot, very finely diced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons sherry or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.

Put the confit duck in a roasting tray and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and the meat hot all the way through.

Meanwhile, if using confit gizzards, fry them in their own fat until crisp and cooked through.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.

Remove the cooked duck from the roasting tray but leave the fat. Turn the oven down to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. If you’ve cooked gizzards instead of 2 confit duck legs, pour some of the fat into a roasting tray. Turn the bread cubes over in the fat and put the walnuts on the other side of the tray.
Salade landaise
Once the oven has reached the lower temperature – it must not be too hot – put the bread and walnuts in the oven and toast for 10 minutes, turning the cubes over after 5 minutes. Take care that the walnuts do not overbrown or they will become bitter.

Cut the confit duck, including the skin, into medium shreds. Slice the gizzards (if using) into medium-sized pieces.

Put the lettuce, tomatoes, walnuts and croûtons in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Divide between 4 plates. Arrange your pieces of duck over the salad. Serve immediately.

Duck with petit pois, tarragon & Madeira

Here is a good method for cooking perfectly pink duck breasts, every time. The flavours of this dish make it a delectable dinner for two. The sophisticated dryness of Madeira complements the other ingredients especially well, but dry sherry or dry white wine would also work.

Duck with petit pois, tarragon & Madeira

Serves 2
2 duck breasts, about 200g (7oz) each
50ml (2fl oz) Madeira
200ml (7fl oz) chicken stock
150ml (¼ pint) double cream
150g (5oz) frozen petit pois
2 sprigs of tarragon, plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped leaves
squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Take the duck breasts out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking so they aren’t fridge-cold when they go into the pan. Season the meat on both sides, then place it skin-side down in a cold frying pan. (There’s no need for fat, as it renders out of the duck while it cooks.) Turn the heat to medium-high and cook until the skin is crisp and browned (about 10 minutes).

Transfer the duck breasts to a plate, then pour the fat from the pan into a small bowl. Cool and keep covered in the fridge for making roast potatoes. Return the duck to the pan, skin-side up, and place over a medium-high heat. Add the Madeira and let it bubble for a minute or so to evaporate the alcohol. Pour in the stock and cream, then stir in the petits pois and tarragon sprigs. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Continue to cook the duck on a medium-high heat, giving it 5 more minutes for medium rare, or 7 minutes for well done. (If using a digital thermometer, the temperature should be 55–60°C [130–140°F] for medium rare to medium, and 70°C [160°F] for well done, remembering that the temperature will rise by 5°C [40°F] or so after you take the duck off the heat.) Transfer the duck to a plate, cover with foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Duck with petit pois, tarragon & Madeira

Increase the heat under the pan and reduce the liquid to a sauce. Remove the tarragon sprigs, then add a little lemon juice to balance out the sweetness of the peas. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.Cut into one breast to check it is done to your liking; if not, return it to the pan with the sauce and cook for a little longer. Cut the duck into thin diagonal slices. Spoon some of the sauce and peas on to plates and sit the duck slices on top. Sprinkle with the chopped tarragon and serve with seasonal greens and potatoes.

Wild-boar-in-the-hole with grainy mustard gravy

Britain now has numerous wild boar, many farmed, but others escapees that are now breeding in the woods of East Sussex, Kent and Gloucestershire. The meat is much prized and makes great sausages, which you can enjoy in this version of a classic British dish. Substitute good pork sausages if wild boar aren’t roaming your neighbourhood shops. One of the tricks of producing a good toad-in-the-hole is to use plenty of fat: good dripping or lard if you have either, or else olive oil.

Wild-boar-in-the-hole with grainy mustard gravy

Serves 4
3 tablespoons beef dripping, lard or olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon extra for the sausages
8 wild boar sausages
4 tablespoons finely chopped chives (optional)

For the batter
200g (7oz) plain flour
250ml (8fl oz) water
250ml (8fl oz) milk
2 large eggs, plus 1 yolk, whisked together
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the gravy
½ tablespoon dripping, lard or butter
½ tablespoon plain flour
400ml (14fl oz) hot chicken, beef or pork stock
25ml (1fl oz) port or sherry, or 50ml (2fl oz) red wine (optional)
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

First make the batter: put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the water, milk and whisked eggs and stir gradually into the flour, giving the mixture a good hard beating at the end to get rid of any lumps. Season with a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper. If you have time, cover the batter and leave for at least 30 minutes, or up to a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the fat or oil in a large frying pan. When hot, brown the sausages on top and bottom. Put the remaining fat or oil in a roasting tray and place in the oven for a couple of minutes, until smoking hot. Quickly whisk up the batter with the chives (if using), and pour it into the hot fat. Arrange the sausages in the batter so they are easy to divide into 4 portions. Return the tray to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the batter is nicely browned.
Wild-boar-in-the-hole with grainy mustard gravy
Whilst the toad is cooking, make the gravy. Melt the fat in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add the hot stock, whisking as you do so to prevent lumps from forming. Pour in the alcohol (if using), bring to the boil and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes. Stir in the mustard, taste and add salt if necessary. Set aside and reheat just before serving the wild-boar-in-the-hole.

Serve with a salad or your favourite greens

Pheasant breast stuffed with bacon & basil

Here’s a great-looking dish for a dinner party, straightforward to make and easy to eat. If possible, ask your butcher for a hen rather than a cock pheasant because although the females are smaller, they are plumper. If buying a whole bird, you can easily tell the cock because it has spurs on its legs. Otherwise, the cock’s breastbone sticks out more. But don’t worry, as both male and female are good for this dish. Not all butchers can supply a boneless crown, in which case see the steps-by-step instructions.

Serves 4
4 boneless pheasant crowns or double breasts (you may be able to order in advance from your butcher), or buy 4 whole pheasants and follow steps
2 thick rindless smoked streaky bacon rashers (about 75g/3oz in total), cut in half

For the stuffing
50-g (2-oz) bunch of basil
3–4 garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon sea salt flakes
¼ teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
3 thick rindless smoked streaky bacon rashers (about 100g/3½oz in total), finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

First make the stuffing: put the basil leaves in a small blender with the garlic, salt and peppercorns and whizz until finely chopped. (This can be done by hand if you prefer.) Transfer to a bowl, add the bacon and olive oil and mix well.

The breast meat must now be taken off each pheasant carcass in one piece before being stuffed. To do this, follow the step-by-step instructions.

When you are ready to roast the stuffed pheasant breasts, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Place the parcels in a roasting tray and roast for 30–40 miutes until the meat juices run clear when a knife is inserted into the thickest part. Set aside to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

Serve with the traditional roast pheasant accompaniments – game chips, bread sauce and gravy – plus steamed vegetables, such as carrots and green veg. Alternatively, serve dauphinoise or roast potatoes instead of the game chips.

How to bone & stuff pheasant breasts

1   Place the bird on a chopping board, legs pointing towards you. Push the legs outwards and use a sharp knife to cut between the right-hand thigh and the breast. Repeat on the left-hand side.

2   Hook your thumbs into the cavity of the bird. Pull the breast in one direction and the legs in the other so that the top half of the bird snaps away from the lower half. Cut the two parts in half at the base. Reserve the legs to use in another dish (you can poach the meat and use it in a curry or game pie, while the bones and other remnants can be used to make a delicious stock), or roast them with the pheasant crowns, with slices of bacon on top.

3 & 4   Place the breast half of the bird on a chopping board, wing-end nearest to you, skin-side down. Using a sharp knife, cut out the breastbone, taking care not to break through the skin. To do this, ease the flesh gently away from the breastbone. Use short strokes to run the tip of a knife between the flesh and the ribs on one side of the bird. Ease the flesh away from the ribs.

5   Repeat on the other side, ideally cutting away the meat from the bone so that you include the little wing joints.

6   Remove the breastbone, trying not to break the skin. (But if you do, don’t worry: bacon will cover up any holes.) Repeat this process for the other pheasant crowns.

7   Lay the boned breasts out on the chopping board and check that there are no little splinters of bone left in the meat. Place a quarter of the stuffing mixture in a strip along the centre of each one. Fold the sides of the meat over the stuffing to enclose it.

8   Using a butcher’s needle and string, sew the meat together in front of the wings, then tie with a knot. Repeat behind the wings, and then at the neck end. Alternatively, use roasting bands to do the same job.

9   When you have made 4 parcels as described above, turn them over so they are breast-side up. Plump them up so they look like little roasting birds. Lay half a rasher of streaky bacon on each one and transfer to a plate. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to cook, taking them out 30 minutes before roasting so they aren’t fridge-cold.

Chicken escalopes with lemon breadcrumbs

An escalope, a thin piece of flattened meat, gets its name from an Old French word for ‘shell’. Not only does it cook quickly and evenly, but it has a large surface area that turns crisp and golden when breadcrumbed and fried. Escalopes are a useful way of making two chicken breasts feed four people for a light lunch, or four children for supper. Alternatively, they can serve two people as a main course.

Chicken escalopes with lemon breadcrumbs

Serves 2–4
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, or 4 skinless boneless thighs, made into escalopes (ask your butcher in advance, or see steps)
50g (2oz) dry breadcrumbs, preferably Japanese panko as they are fine and light
1 egg
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
20g (¾oz) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
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