Most of my Anglo mates have only heard about this bird through the Christmas song about leaping lords, gold rings and a partridge in a pear tree. In Spain, they are the most prized of all birds, probably due to the strong cultural influence of hunting. In Australia, we are lucky to have a small, but dedicated, number of farmers who are patient enough to raise these tasty birds. Unlike other poultry they have a season that lasts from the end of summer to the middle of winter. Out of this period they are sometimes available frozen. If you can’t find partridge then use guinea fowl or pheasant. They are a decent-sized bird and make a good main meal, especially when the cold weather starts — the perfect excuse to pull out the cast-iron enamel ovenware.
Trim the birds by trimming off the neck and the wings to the first joint.
Make the marinade by mixing together the herbs, carrot, onion, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, sherry vinegar and
Heat the olive oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over medium heat and sauté the extra onion for 10–12 minutes until golden brown. Stir in the cabbage. Tip out the marinade from the cavities of the partridges and place the birds on top of the cabbage, breast side down. Strain the marinating liquid into the dish. Add the white wine and enough water to almost cover the birds — about three-quarters of the way up. Bring to the boil over high heat.
Cover with the lid and
Remove the partridges from the dish, cover with foil and set aside near the oven or stovetop to keep warm. Return the casserole dish to the stovetop over high heat and cook for 10–15 minutes, or until the cooking juices have reduced by one-third and thickened slightly. Season to taste.
Make a bed of cabbage on four warmed serving plates and place a whole bird on top. Spoon over the sauce and serve.
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