Such suppers are simply a treat and give a real feeling of early Christmas merriment. This is a warming, rounded, fulsome dish that leaves you feeling replete and at one with the world. It is simplicity itself and a partridge per person is practically perfect.
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
100 gm lardons
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp plain flour
200ml/7fl oz red wine
350ml/12fl oz chicken stock
2 tbsp cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly
4 potatoes peeled, cut into 3 pieces each and par boiled for 10 minutes
Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
Season the partridges all over with black pepper and salt and rub in.
Melt the butter with the oil in a large flame-proof casserole or your largest saucepan over a medium heat. Add the partridges to the casserole, breast-side down, and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until nicely browned. Turn and fry on each of the remaining three sides for a further minute until browned all over. Remove from the casserole and put on a plate.
Reduce the heat and add the onion, lardons and thyme to the casserole. Fry gently for 5-6 minutes, or until the onions are softened and the lardons are beginning to brown, stirring regularly.
Sprinkle the flour into the pan and stir well. Cook for about five minutes, then add the wine and chicken stock. Spoon the cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly on top and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Gently return the partridges to the pan and cover with a lid. Cook over a low heat for 30 minutes.
Then add the potatoes and cook for a further 30-40 minutes, or until the birds are very tender and the sauce has thickened. Pick out the thyme and adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve on warmed plates and sprinkle over the chopped parsley.
Tis the season to be merry and this one will have you purring with quiet satisfaction.