"Partridge is a great bird to cook. I like to remove the legs before roasting the crowns so the legs can be cooked longer either by roasting or confiting in duck fat. The splash of Madeira in the pan to glaze the breasts and of course a bit of butter for extra richness is great. Try this with bread sauce, a classic with roasted game birds."
Prep time 30 minutes, cooking time 2 hours
4 grey or red legged partridge, legs removed
4 bunches of watercress, washed200g crab apples, washed and cut into pieces
200g unrefined caster sugar
1 glass Madeira
250ml pint of good beef or chicken stock
250ml pint duck fat,1 tablespoon cold-pressed rapeseed oil
2 knobs of butter
Good salt and pepper
Begin by making the crab apple jelly. Place the apples in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour until the fruit is soft and mushy.
Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan and add the sugar. Bring to the boil carefully - it will splutter like jam - stirring continuously on a moderate heat for about an hour until the mix has thickened and has turned a deep red. It may take a while longer.
Allow to cool then chill the jelly in the fridge for a day. This jelly is also excellent with cheese, like a quince paste.
Heat the oven to 180°C.
Next, confit the partridge legs by submerging them in the duck fat in a pan on a on a low heat. When starting to boil, place in the oven for a couple of hours.
Next, roast the partridge crowns. Place an oven-proof frying pan on the hob and add the oil. Fry the partridge all over for a few minutes then add some butter and allow the meat to brown. Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes until just golden, remove from the pan and allow to rest in a warm place for 5 to 7 minutes.
To make a sauce, add the Madeira to the same frying pan and deglaze by bringing it to the boil and reducing by two thirds. Then add the stock and reduce again by two thirds. Add a knob of butter and check the consistency and seasoning.
To serve, remove the breasts from the bone and place the drained legs on top. Spoon the sauce over the meat and garnish with watercress and a dollop of crab apple jelly. Serve with a bread sauce if desired.