Partridge with pumpkin and wild mushrooms
What could be more festive than a partridge? No, not in a pear tree but roasted with pumpkin and mushrooms and served with all the traditional Christmas trimmings. Partridge is much easier and quicker to cook than turkey, with no danger of becoming dry and tough; these little birds are juicy and tender.
Their dark meat is slightly higher in fat than turkey, but they are a richer source of important nutrients like iron, zinc and selenium.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 4 oven-ready partridges
- 2 medium-sized onions
- 100g butter
- 2 sticks of celery
- 400g pumpkin
- A few sprigs of thyme
- 100g fresh wild mushrooms (such as girolles)
- 150g small chestnut mushrooms
- Dry vermouth and cognac
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 5.
Peel the onion and slice thinly into rings. Melt half the butter in a shallow pan and cook the onion till soft and tender.
Cut the celery into julienne strips, then add to the onion, together with the sprigs of thyme. Continue to cook till they have softened slightly.
Peel the pumpkin and dice the flesh into 1cm cubes. Cut the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Stir both ingredients into the onion.
Lay out four sheets of greaseproof paper and divide the onion mixture between them.
Put the empty pan back on the heat and add the remaining butter. When sizzling, add the birds, breast-side down. Let them cook for a couple of minutes till their skin is golden, then turn.
Lift the birds out and put them in the middle of the onion mixture. Pour over a couple of glugs each of dry vermouth and cognac, then pull the paper up around the birds and scrunch the edges together and seal with string.
Lift the parcels onto a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until the parcel is golden brown and puffed up. Serve with all the usual Christmas trimmings.