Partridge with polenta and elderberries

Serves 4

This is a great way to get a couple of servings from one bird, as a starter, or as a dish in a multi-course dinner.

You can use just the breast and save the legs for a salad or a soup. Or, alternatively, use the legs and breasts so your guests can pick up the legs and really get stuck in to the meal.

2 oven-ready partridges
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of knobs of butter, softened
A few heads of elderberries with the berries removed
½tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
2tbsp rapeseed oil
A handful of small salad leaves (optional)

For the polenta

750ml milk
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
A pinch of nutmeg
80g quick-cooking polenta
25ml double cream
75g freshly grated Parmesan
Flour for dusting

First make and set the polenta. Bring the milk to the boil in a thick-bottomed pan, then add the garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Simmer for 5 minutes, then whisk in the polenta.

Cook on a very low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and giving it an occasional whisk.Add the cream and Parmesan and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste and remove from the heat.

Line a small rectangular container about 10cm x 4-5cm deep with clingfilm and spoon in the polenta, then cover with more clingfilm and leave to cool. Refrigerate for a few hours until set, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8. Season the partridges with salt and pepper and rub with butter. Roast for 15 minutes, rubbing with more butter as they are cooking, then remove from the oven and leave on a plate to rest for 6-7 minutes.

Turn out the polenta and cut into slices 1cm thick and about 3cm wide; lightly flour them. Heat a tablespoon of rapeseed oil in a non-stick pan and fry the slices of polenta on a fairly high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, until crisp, then keep warm. Mix the elderberries with the vinegar and a little more rapeseed oil and season.

Remove the breasts and legs from the partridge, cut the breast into about 6 slices. Transfer the polenta on to serving plates, arrange the breasts and legs on top, then spoon the elderberry dressing over and around and, if you like, scatter the leaves.

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