A Partridge & A Pear. Squee!
Today's recipe is Roast Partridge, served on a bed of Rosemary, Sage, and Parmesan Polenta, with a Pear wrapped in Pancetta on the side. Not included in the recipe (but in the photographs) is a bit of a lower-brow side that might seem out of place. Can't think what on earth inspired me to include those ;-)
For the Partridge:
Erm. Two Partridges
For the Pears:
This is getting embarrassing: 2 ripe pears, peeled
6 rashers of pancetta
For the Polenta:
80g Polenta (or corn meal)
1/2 tbsp rosemary
1/2 tbsp sage
This serves two. It's Christmas, though, so if you want to pig out, add more of the traditional trimmings (and/or my topical but non-traditional sides!)
1. I started by prepping the Partridges. They didn't take much. I just gently massaged a knob of butter into each (oh good lord), put them in a roasting dish just big enough to hold the two, and sprinkled with salt & pepper.
2. For each pear, lay out 3 rashers (or are they just slices or strips?) of pancetta side by side. Roll the pears over the pancetta to wrap them, and pin together with a cocktail stick or two. Pop them upright in a roasting dish just big enough for the two.
3. Put the oven on to heat to 200ºC.
4. While the oven is heating up, add the milk, rosemary & sage into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
5. When the milk starts to rise up the sides of the pan, turn the heat down to minimum, and slowly slowly pour the polenta, in a thin stream, into the milk, stirring the whole time to avoid lumps.
5. Pop the partridges and pears into the oven.
6. The polenta should thicken up fairly quickly. Don't be alarmed by this. Give it a good whisk every couple of minutes. You're aiming for a porridge-like consistency. It's not ready until it starts to come away from the sides of the pan. If that happens before your birds are ready, just add a little water - not too much at a time, though, keep that porridge-like consistency. Don't worry, it won't taste like porridge!
7. The partridges and pears should take about half an hour. Once they've had that, if they look about ready, test the partridges with a skewer. The juices should run clear. If they're ready, bring them out and rest them for ten minutes. I used the juices from the pan, along with those from the pears, to knock together a quick gravy with some red wine and vegetable stock in this time.
8. While the birds are resting, stir the parmesan through the polenta. Add more water if needed to keep the consistency, and keep stirring until ready to serve. If it's lumpy, don't panic; just take a stick blender to it!
9. When done, spoon the polenta onto the plate, pop a bird on top, and a pear on the side.
Well. None of the four we usually compare sold Partridges, so I got those from Lidl. They seemed a bargain at £5.99, but I've no frame of reference! I've included that as a base cost, and then added the cost of the other ingredients on top to come up with an overall costing.
Speaking of which, Morrisons take the gong this week with their offering of £13.51, followed very surprisingly by Sainsbury's (yes, Sainsbury's!) in 2nd at £13.78.
There's only 10p difference in the bottom three, as ASDA come in at £13.81 and Tesco come last, uncharacteristically in recent times, at £13.88.
First up: be careful of the polenta. My first attempt, all I could taste was the sage - so I've halved the quantities of the herbs in this version. I haven't tried it yet mind, so apologies if it's still a little overpowering! The parmesan works surprisingly well with the partridge :)
If you're very nervous of the polenta, you could try this with a good creamy mash instead. I don't know if I'd use the herbs in the mash, or just to season the bird itself as is more traditional... but it's all about the tweaks, right? Perhaps a parmesan crisp could be nice, too.
Speaking of crisps, I'd originally intended to use parsnip crisps (or ribbons!) as a garnish, but I burnt them at the last minute, trying to bring everything together.
The pears are amazing! The intention was for the sweetest to cut through the otherwise very-savoury-centric nature of this dish, and it certainly did that. The pancetta helped bring the sweetness back in towards the more savoury flavours of the rest of the plate. You could, if you wanted just slice some pears and pop them in the roaster beside the partridges, but I much much much prefer this way. Not only does it taste great, it's visually appealing, too!