This was the dish we cocked up. James, my sous chef, roasted a partridge instead of a grouse; the confusion probably arose because we were serving grouse on toast as a starter and whole roast partridge as a main, and Keith requested a grouse instead of partridge. Like grouse, you can serve partridge in exactly the same way with game chips. I like to serve parsnip crisps, bread sauce – the works.
Vegetable oil for deep frying
3 large clean parsnips
8 oven-ready partridges
200ml beef stock
200ml chicken stock
100ml red wine
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 245C/gas mark 9. Heat some oil to 180C in a deep-fat fryer. Top and tail the parsnips, leaving the skin on, unless it's very brown and, with a sharp mandolin (a slicing contraption with a very sharp blade – I find that the Japanese ones are the best), slice them as thinly as possible lengthways, then dry them with a clean tea towel.
Fry the slices in the hot fat a few at a time, stirring to ensure that they don't stick together. The parsnips will take a while to colour and may appear soft while they are still in the fat, but once they have been drained they will dry out and crisp up.
Leave the partridges somewhere warm, but not hot, to dry.
Reduce the beef and chicken stock together by two-thirds. Lightly season the partridges and rub the breasts with a little softened butter. Roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes. If you insert a sharp knife or carving fork between the legs and breast a little blood should run out. Slightly pink is the ideal way to serve partridge or they can be a little dry.
Put the partridges on a plate to rest and to catch any juices that run out. Put the roasting tray in which the partridges were cooked over a low heat, add the red wine and stir the bottom to remove any cooking residue.
Reduce the red wine completely and then add the stock. Simmer for a few minutes, then strain the gravy through a fine-meshed sieve into a small pan. It should be thick enough now but, if not, mix a little cornflour with water and stir it in.
The partridges can be served whole or with the breasts and legs removed. Hand round the bread sauce, parsnip chips and gravy separately. Brussel sprouts and chestnuts would make an excellent accompaniment.Reuse content