Partridge and Lentil Casserole

Pernici con Lenticchie

Game is an integral part of the Sardinian food scene, a fact which might surprise most visitors who see this glorious island only in the summer time, when its landscape is parched and river beds dried up. When the island is rich and green, however, all kinds of delicious game, from baby wild boar to plump pheasant, finds its way into the pot.

If you cannot get partridges, use poussins.

Ingredients

  • 5–7 oz (150–200 g) brown lentils, soaked overnight in cold water
  • salt and pepper
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 very plump partridges or poussins, jointed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 bay leaf

Method

Drain and rinse the lentils, cover with fresh cold water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes, drain, rinse and cover again with fresh cold water. Add 2 pinches of salt and simmer for about 45 minutes, then drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

Pour the oil into a deep flameproof casserole, heat it and lightly brown the onion in it. Add the partridges and seal all over. Put in the lentils and about half their reserved cooking liquid, the tomato purée and the bay leaf. Simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes (depending upon the age of the birds), stirring frequently and adding more of the cooking liquid from the lentils. (The sauce should be fairly thick.) Season to taste. Arrange on a warmed platter and serve at once.

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