Winter

A partridge day…

Yesterday we headed out for a day of partridge shooting, inevitably there were a few pheasants, duck and pigeons. After a busy day crossing acres of plough on foot and consuming bowls of homemade soup, a few Norfolk nogs and the odd sloe fizz we ended a successful day with a good bag.

The partridge shoot…

We had nine guns on the shoot, bagging a total of 161 birds, I shall not embarrass the guns with shots recorded, but to be fair it was close to 3 to 1.

The partridge bag…

Coming away with a brace of partridges, we decided to pluck and draw them today. I’ve plucked my fair share of pheasants – and am a trained taxidermist – but, faced with plucking a partridge this morning, I felt  a little anxious at the prospect.

We set up a temporary table outside and started plucking, it was fine, the feathers were quick to come out when pulled against the grain and each bird took about 10 minutes. After cutting off the head, wings, lower legs and tail they were drawn and ready for the oven.

Time for plucking…

Partridge is a bird I’ve never eaten before and I was unsure about how ‘gamey’ it would be. After gathering some root veg from the garden – beetroot and celeriac – I decided to cook it wrapped in bacon accompanied by roasted beetroot, smashed celeriac and kale crisps.

It took a while to find a recipe I has happy with but in the end I settled with the bacon-wrapped roast partridge, pork stuffing and lentils courtesy of Jamie Oliver. We improvised and instead of having a pork mince based stuffing we used smoked bacon which worked really well.

Bacon-wrapped roast partridge…

It’s definitely a bird I would eat again, and there is something satisfying in knowing where it came from, how it was hung and how it was prepared. I guess it’s one of the joys of living in the country – being more aware of your food from field to fork and having the confidence to do it justice.

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