Place an onion inside each bird and a rasher of bacon over each. Put them in a large casserole with sliced carrots and onions cut into rings, the remaining bacon diced, pepper and salt, and the parsley and thyme. Pour over the red wine or cider. Leave overnight.
In the morning, pack the quarters of cabbage round the birds and fill the casserole up with water, just to cover all. Put in the oven at 250° F., gas mark ½. Leave to cook very slowly for 4 hours.
Lift the cabbage and vegetables carefully on to a large dish and put birds in the middle.
Thicken the gravy slightly by making a roux with the butter and flour in the usual way. Pour over the birds and cabbage.
Serve very hot with plain boiled potatoes or rice. Both cabbage and partridges benefit from being cooked together.
The birds, when served, will need dividing rather than carving.
©1975 The Estate of Elizabeth Ayrton