Partridge tagine with olives

Serves 4-6

There are some game birds I wouldn't use for this, like grouse, snipe or woodcock, but partridge and pheasant lend themselves well to a bit of spice and slow cooking. It's also a good way to use up frozen birds.

4 partridges, each cut into 4 pieces
1tbsp flour
4tbsp olive oil
3 medium red onions, peeled and sliced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
30g root ginger, peeled and finely grated
1tsp paprika
1tsp ground mace
2tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground cardamom
A good pinch of saffron strands
2tsp tomato purée
1½ litres chicken stock
30 green olives whole or stoned
100-150g raw couscous
2 preserved lemons, quartered

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Season and lightly flour the partridge pieces. Heat half the olive oil in a heavy frying pan and fry them for a couple of minutes on each side, until they are nicely brown. Put to one side.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan with a lid, gently cook the onions in the rest of the olive oil with all the spices for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often until they are soft and beginning to colour. You may need to add a little water if they are sticking to the bottom.

Add the tomato purée and chicken stock, bring to the boil and season. Simmer for 20 minutes, then add the partridge, olives and preserved lemons. Transfer into a tagine or a covered cooking dish and finish in the oven for 1 hour. You may need to add more stock but a tagine shouldn't have too much liquid.

Taste the sauce and, if necessary, transfer just the sauce to a pan and simmer to thicken it. Return the partridge pieces and lemons to the sauce, reheat for a few minutes and serve with steamed couscous. Have a pot of harissa at hand to add some extra spice and heat.

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