About this recipe:Naturally lean and low in calories, partridge is perfect for pot-roasting. The gentle cooking in cider and stock keeps this game bird moist, and fresh sage, pickled walnuts and apple add wonderful flavours. A carrot and celeriac pure is an ideal accompaniment, or try a potato mash with chopped spring onions.
15 g (1/2 oz) fresh sage
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
15 g (1/2 oz) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
300 ml (10 fl oz) dry cider
150 ml (5 fl oz) chicken stock, preferably home-made
2 tsp German mustard
3 pickled walnuts, about 45 g (1 1/2 oz) in total, thinly sliced
1 red-skinned dessert apple, cored and cut into thick slices
salt and pepper
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Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F, gas mark 3). Tuck some sage sprigs into the body cavity of each partridge, reserving a few sprigs for garnish.
Heat the oil and butter in a flameproof casserole just large enough to hold the birds. Add the partridges and fry over a moderately high heat for 3–4 minutes, turning until evenly browned. Lift the birds out of the casserole and set aside.
Add the onion to the casserole and cook for 3 minutes, stirring, until lightly browned. Sprinkle in the flour and stir well to mix with the onion, then add the cider, stock, mustard and seasoning to taste. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Add the walnuts.
Return the partridges to the casserole, breast side down. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 hour or until tender.
Lift the partridges out of the casserole and place on a warmed serving plate. Cover and keep hot.
Set the casserole on top of the cooker and boil the cooking liquid for 5 minutes or until reduced by one-third. Add the apple slices for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Spoon the apple slices around the birds and garnish with the reserved sage sprigs. Serve with the sauce.