Roast partridge with mascarpone and thyme, polenta and red wine braised radicchio.
I wanted to catch the end of the British game season so made use of the free weekend after exams to get a few different dishes done. I settled with partridge, and the cold weather served as the perfect excuse to eat it with hearty polenta and bitter radicchio to cut through the richness.
I lifted the idea for the mascarpone and herb stuffing from a River Cafe recipe I had seen and used the cooking juices to braise the radicchio with some red wine to serve as a sauce too. Getting my hands on radicchio reminded me of the constant variation in leaf vegetables available during my time in Valencia, so I trawled through my photos from the city centre taken around this time last year for respite from the unrelenting grey skies here and have included them in this post.
It was the first time I had bought real polenta and cooked it rather than used it for cakes. Despite the extra effort in making it, the resulting texture and flavour subtlety makes it worth the effort and a far cry from the stodge that instant polenta produces. It needs some sharpness to cut through it, so the radicchio really helped in balancing the richness.
2 tablespoons of both finely chopped fresh thyme and parsley
salt & pepper
250g thinly sliced pancetta
Oven @ 220C
Ensure the partridges are clean before mixing the the herbs into the mascarpone and seasoning well. Fill each cavity with the mix. Wrap each bird in pancetta and secure with string.
Heat some olive oil in a roasting tray on the hob until hot. Brown the birds on all sides before transferring to the oven for 18 minutes. Leave to rest on a warm plate and cut off string before serving.
1.75 litres cold water
Bring the water to boil in a large, thick-based saucepan. Add the salt and slowly add the polenta flour in a continuous stream whilst stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps. Once completely blended, it will start to bubble. Reduce the heat to minimum and stir frequently for around 40-45 minutes until it falls from the sides of the pan.
Stir in the butter and any extra seasoning if needed.
handful of pinenuts
handful of sultanas, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
roasting juices from the birds
3 or 4 round radicchio (or treviso if avialable), quartered lengthways
250ml red wine
150ml chicken stock
small handful fresh thyme and parsley leaves roughly chopped
Toast the pinenuts and set aside with the drained sultanas. Add the roasting juices to a heavy bottomed wide pan or skillet on medium-high heat. When smoking, add the radicchio quarters and turn frequently until caramelised on all sides. Add the red wine and stock, turn the quarters for a further 30 seconds before setting aside. Reduce the liquids to a desired consistency on a high heat, adding the herbs, sultanas and pinenuts for the last 10 seconds before transferring to a pouring jug.
Spoon some polenta to the centre of each plate, place the partridge on top and arrange the radicchio before pouring over the wine reduction.