Dress the whole dish simply with olive oil and finely chopped curly parsley, and serve at once / Lisa Barber
Serves 4

4 red-legged partridges, plucked and cleaned, but not trussed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5tbsp very good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices of crusty, white peasant-style bread (such as pagnotta)
1 garlic clove, peeled
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
200g/7oz very fresh sheep's milk ricotta
A handful of curly parsley

Using poultry scissors, cut away the backbone of each partridge to enable you to open the bird out. The easiest way to do this is to cut either side of the bone where the ribs join, then push the bird out flat with your open hand.

Now place the birds in a large shallow dish, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with four tablespoons of the oil. Turn to coat once or twice, then leave to marinate for 30 minutes or so.

Preheat the grill or a griddle pan. When hot, lay the partridges skin-side down on the rack or griddle. Cook, turning frequently so that they brown and cook evenly all over, for about 25 minutes until the flesh is pink and tender, but not too rare. Check by pressing either side of the breast to see it is firm but still has a little spring. Remove the partridges to a warm plate and rest for five minutes.

In the meantime, toast the bread on the barbecue or griddle. Place a slice of toast on each warm plate, rub a garlic clove over the surface followed by sea salt and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Add a spoonful of ricotta, then place a partridge on top. Dress the whole dish simply with olive oil and finely chopped curly parsley, and serve at once.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627

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