Roasted and marinated partridge with juniper-scented sauce

Serves 4

This is something a bit different to give friends or family coming over for dinner – it's not difficult but is something they probably wouldn't cook for themselves. A great way, essentially, of showing off.

4 partridge
500ml/17fl oz chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bulb garlic, halved lengthways
250ml/8fl oz olive oil
1/2 bunch thyme

For the sauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 carrot, cut into 4 chunks
1/2 stalk celery, cut into 4
1/2 onion, cut into 2
1 tbsp juniper berries
6 white peppercorns
50ml/2fl oz port or sherry
100ml/31/2fl oz red wine
250ml/8fl oz beef stock
1 tbsp Bombay Sapphire, or other aromatic gin
1/2 tsp table salt

First, poach the partridge by bringing the chicken/vegetable stock to a gentle simmer in a saucepan big enough to fit four of the birds. Poach them for three minutes then remove from the liquid, set aside and season all over.

Heat a medium-sized frying pan with the vegetable oil. When hot, place the partridge into the pan, breast-side first. Evenly roast the birds by turning frequently and basting with the hot oil. When nicely golden, remove and allow to rest for at least five minutes. Now remove the breasts from the partridge, as you would a chicken (reserving the carcasses), and place, skin-side up, in a shallow tray.

Meanwhile, place the olive oil and thyme into a saucepan and heat very gently until just above blood temperature – then pour the warmed oil over the birds in the tray and leave in a warm (but not too hot) place for 10-15 minutes.

Now make the sauce. Heat a medium-sized saucepan with the tablespoon of vegetable oil. Chop the partridge carcasses in half, season, then add to the hot pan with the carrot, celery, onion, juniper berries and peppercorns. Brown everything well then add the port and red wine. Reduce to a syrup then add the beef stock. Allow to simmer for five minutes then strain the liquid into a clean pan and bring to the boil, add the gin, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve the partridge with the juniper sauce and winter vegetables – for example, those in the pot-roast partridge recipe (see related links).