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    Partridges with Apples, Cream and Calvados

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    Partridges with Apples, Cream and Calvados

    Serves: 6 - 8

    Ingredients

    • 3-4 partridges, plucked and cleaned
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • About 75g butter
    • 125g minced pork
    • 125g minced beef
    • 2-3 apples, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 2 tablespoons calvados
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 small egg, beaten
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • To finish
    • 2-3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
    • 150ml crème fraîche or double cream, soured with a drop of lemon juice

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.
    2. Wipe the birds and remove any stray hairs or feathers - a blast over a gas flame does the trick.
    3. To make the stuffing, fry the onions in 25g butter until soft and golden. Stir in the minced meat and cook gently until it changes colour.
    4. Add the chopped apple and soften a little. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of calvados, put a lid on and stew gently for about 20 minutes, until the apples are quite mushy. Season. Leave to cool a little, then mix in the egg.
    5. Stuff into the birds' cavities, tying the drumsticks together with thread. Arrange the birds in a roasting tin, season, dot with a little butter and sprinkle with thyme.
    6. Wrap any leftover stuffing in buttered foil and tuck it alongside. Roast for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven to 170°C/gas 3. Allow another 45-50 minutes - when a drumstick pulls away easily from the body, the partridges are done.
    7. Quarter the birds and place in a hot dish with the stuffing. Sauté the apple slices in another 25g butter - don't let them lose their shape - and place among the joints.
    8. To make the sauce, reheat the roasting pan and add the remaining calvados, scraping up all the little brown bits. Bubble up fiercely to evaporate the alcohol. Stir in the cream and bubble up again to thicken.
    9. Taste and season. Whisk in the remaining butter, cut in small pieces, to add shine.
    10. Moisten the joints with a little sauce and hand the rest separately, strained if you like.
    11. If you can't get partridge, use poussin, allow a little less cooking time and compensate with flavouring herbs - sage, juniper, bay.

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