Roast Partridge Recipe | Hank Shaw - Author of Pheasant, Quail Cottontail
If you are lucky enough to harvest a partridge, it makes a phenomenal meal - nothing short of amazing for your table!
This recipe, Roast Partridge, is written by our friend and outdoorsman, Hank Shaw, author of Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail. He cuts his teeth with cooking and is well-versed in aging meats, sausage, and “all the things that do not get nearly enough attention in the wild game culinary world.” – A.J. DeRosa of Project Upland.
Before you even cook your birds, your best bet is to set them uncovered in the fridge for up to 24 hours. The arid, cold environment of the refrigerator dries out the skin of the birds a bit, which will help crisp it later. The skin may start to look splotchy, but that’s normal.
When you want to cook your birds, set them out on a paper towel on a plate for a solid 45 minutes. Salt them inside and out now. It needs to be fine salt, not coarse, or the salt will create weird spots on the skin. It is very important that your birds start this process at room temperature.
Get a sauté pan large enough to hold your birds. Four at a shot are as many as I’ve been able to handle. Put a fair amount of fat or oil in it. Unless you are pathologically opposed to butter, use at least some. I like about 3 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil along with 3 tablespoons of butter. Clarified butter is a good choice, but I like the browning of the solids in the butter; it adds something to the birds. Turn the heat to medium-high.
When the butter melts, set the birds breast side up in the pan. It’ll be a minute or so before they sizzle. Drop the heat to medium-low. You want a gentle sizzle here, lower than that of bacon sizzling. This helps prevent the butter from blackening and gives you the time you need to get to that perfect bird.
Once you’re at a nice sizzle, use a soup spoon to ladle the hot butter over the bird. Tilt the pan with one hand and spoon with the other. Do this constantly.
When the breast meat and legs have contracted a little and turned opaque, tilt the birds on their sides. You want the legs to get full contact with the pan. Ladle hot butter on the inside of the leg touching the pan, and then on the gap between the leg and wing on the side facing you. Ladle a little in the cavity, too. When the legs and wing on the bottom are golden brown, flip the birds and repeat on the other side.
Once both sides are browned, set the birds breast side up again. This is a good time to take a break, as you will leave them there, sizzling happily, for 3 to 5 minutes.
To finish, turn the heat up to medium-high again, and ladle butter over the breast until the skin browns; this is where the butter comes into its own — butter browns things faster than most other fats. Remove the birds from the heat and let them rest, uncovered, on a cutting board for a few minutes before serving.
“One of the most important things about this book is that it actually teaches us how to cook by giving us the tools and confidence to alter recipes through understanding what our game meat is capable of. It discusses the building blocks from stocks to sausage — and doesn’t forget about those giblets.” – A.J. DeRosa
Don’t just take our word for it. For a complete review of this stellar wild game cookbook, check out the review from our friend A.J. DeRosa of Project Upland. Hank’s passion for all things cooking and the world of wild game is truly shown in his spectacular work.
Let us know how you liked the recipe in the comments below!