Roast English Partridge with Forcemeat Balls and a Cake of Celeriac Purée

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Ingredients

  • 4 greyleg English partridge, properly hung
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 150 ml/¼ pint brown chicken or game stock
  • 150 ml/¼ pint red wine
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 tablespoon dry (sercial) Madeira
  • 3–4 juniper berries, crushed
  • 8 small sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 50 g/2 oz unsalted butter, plus extra to finish the sauce
  • 250 g/8 oz spinach, wilted in a little butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Forcemeat Balls

  • ½ pork fillet, about 175 g/6 oz, well trimmed
  • 175 g/6 oz game or chicken livers
  • 25 g/1 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 dessert apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Celeriac Purée

  • 225 g/8 oz peeled potatoes
  • 500 g/1 lb peeled celeriac
  • grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 50 g/2 oz unsalted butter
  • salt and freshly ground white pepper

Blueberry and Shallot Compote

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 500 g/1 lb. small shallots or pickling onions
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2.5 cm/1 inch root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons apple or crab-apple jelly
  • zest from 1 large orange, blanched
  • 125 g/4 oz fresh blueberries

Method

To make the blueberry compote, heat the oil in pan, add the shallots or onions and cook until lightly coloured. Add the wine vinegar, sherry, sugar and ginger, shaking the pan. Continue cooking for 4–5 minutes, until almost tender. Add the jelly and orange zest and cook through. Add the blueberries at last moment – do not allow to cook – and serve immediately.

To make the forcemeat, chop the pork, livers, breadcrumbs, shallot and seasoning very finely in a food processor. Stir in the herbs and diced apple. Fry a small piece of the forcemeat in a pan, taste and adjust the seasoning. Form into walnut-sized balls and roll in the flour. Just before serving, heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the forcemeat balls until golden.

Remove the partridge legs at the hip joint. Place the legs in a casserole or roasting tin, add the diced vegetables, stock, red wine, bouquet garni, Madeira and juniper berries. Bring to the boil, then place in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4 for 45 minutes, until the skin is glossy and the legs tender (test with the tip of a knife). Keep warm until ready to serve.

Make an incision each side of the breastbones and tuck in little sprigs of fresh thyme. Lift the skin away from the breast and smear a little unsalted butter under the skin. Season.

Heat the remaining butter in a heavy-based pan, sear the breasts on both sides, then sit them on their sides in a roasting tin.

Place in a preheated oven at 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7 for 5–6 minutes. Turn over and continue roasting for a further 5 minutes. Remove and rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes with two-thirds of the celeriac. Mash, beat in the nutmeg and half the butter, and check the seasoning. Form into small cakes and fry in the remaining butter until crusty and golden. Keep hot.

Cut the remaining celeriac into fine julienne. Stir-fry quickly in butter, until crisp. Season.

Strain the cooking liquid from the leg, reduce by half and whisk in a little butter. Remove the breasts from the carcasses.

Place the legs and forcemeat balls on heated dinner plates. Arrange the celeriac julienne in the centre with the breasts on top, the sauce spooned around, and the celeriac cake to one side. Serve with spinach and blueberry compote.