Partridge with Sauerkraut and Parsley Root
Partridge is perhaps the most delicate of game birds. Tasty, aromatic, mild. It is also one of the most vulnerable birds, given it is under threat from loss of habitat. Especially the grey partridge is becoming scarce. They are also expensive (we paid 10 euro per partridge) and the best part of the season (September-November) is relatively short, so don’t wait too long if you want to enjoy partridge once a year, like we do.
The meat of a partridge is lean and tends to become very dry when preparing it. So what to do? Of course! Put a strip of bacon on each breast and transfer the partridge to a hot oven.
Not really. The bacon will impact the delicate taste of the partridge. And placing such a small, lean bird in a hot oven is a massive risk. Just a few minutes too long (simply because something else you are preparing takes a bit longer) and the meat is bone dry. Stuffing the partridge doesn’t help either; the filling will be moist, but the meat will be dry anyway.
The key to an excellent partridge is to be brave enough to use an oven on a really low temperature, meaning on the temperature the meat should have when it’s served, which is 70 °Celsius or 160 °Fahrenheit. Dutch chef Peter Lute presents this method in two highly recommended videos.
Partridge combines very well with a range of vegetables and herbs. You could celebrate the end of summer by enjoying your partridge with a thyme-courgette cake. Easy to make and full of flavours. This year we decided to combine our annual partridge with Sauerkraut (Elzas-style) and Parsley Root Puree.
We enjoyed our Partridge with a glass of Riesling, produced by Markus Molitor. A classic Moselle Riesling from Germany. Clear mineral aromas, also fruit, herbal, delicate and pure. Excellent with the flavors of the partridge and the sauerkraut.
In general you’re looking for an aromatic white wine, with perhaps a touch of sweetness.
What You Need
- For the Partridge
- Two Partridges
- Two Garlic Cloves
- Bay Leaf
- Olive Oil
- For the Sauerkraut
- 250 grams of Sauerkraut
- 50 grams of Bacon
- One small Shallot
- Bay leaf
- Caraway (cumin)
- Pink (or Red) Peppercorns
- Juniper Berries
- White wine
- Olive Oil
- For the Parsley Root Puree
- Parsley Root
- White Pepper
What You Do
Start with preparing the sauerkraut. Slice the bacon and chop the shallot. Fry the bacon in some butter in a small iron skillet. After a few minutes add the shallot. Mix sauerkraut, pink peppercorns, crushed juniper berries, crushed caraway, white wine and a splash of olive oil. Add the sauerkraut to the skillet, add bay leaf, some butter, cover with foil and transfer to the oven (110° Celsius or 230° Fahrenheit). Leave in the oven for 4-6 hours. Check the sauerkraut every hour, mix and add water if needed.
A very helpful instruction (in Dutch) how to prepare partridge is presented and demonstrated by Peter Lute in two excellent videos. Please watch them and see how it should be done.
In summary: prepare the partridge by carefully cutting of the two legs and removing the lower part of the back of the bird (the tail bone area). Warm a heavy iron pan and add butter. Coat the birds with butter, making sure they have a very light brown colour. Transfer the pan to a warm oven: 70° Celsius or 160° Fahrenheit. Leave in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Since the oven is on the ideal temperature for the meat, it doesn’t really matter if you leave them in the oven longer. Set aside.
Peel the parsley root, chop and put in a pan with water and bring to a boil. When the parsley root is halfway, remove the water and add cream. Let cook on low heat until tender. Use a blender to create a puree. Add white pepper and nutmeg.
Add a touch of olive oil to a non-stick pan, and quickly brown the meat, skin side only. Just before serving separate the tenderloin from the breast and remove the fleece before serving the breasts. If all is well you will see a beautiful pink colour, indicating your cuisson is perfect and your partridge as tasty and delicate as possible.