Salt-baked Partridge
confit leg pie, smoked parsnip purée, mustard pear, pickled brambles
serves 10

10 partridges
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
4 cloves garlic
300ml duck fat
20 slices streaky bacon, unsmoked

parsnip sauerkraut
3kg parsnips
1tbs Maldon sea salt
2-3 slices sourdough bread

pickled brambles
200g brambles
150ml cider vinegar
4 peppercorns
2 cloves
6 juniper berries
40g ginger
1 bay leaf
10tbs sugar
1/4tbs salt
1 shallot
1 sprig thyme
1 star anise

salt clay
50ml white wine vinegar
zest from 2 oranges
2g ground cloves
500g egg white
50g salt
2kg plain flour
20g rosemary chopped
10g ground bay leaf

shortcrust pastry
225g plain flour
115g butter
1 egg

partridge leg pie filling
20 legs
1ltr duck fat
150ml red wine
70ml port
3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 cloves garlic
5g coriander seeds
1 star anise
10g white peppercorns
offal from birds
1 sprig tarragon
zest from 1 orange

parsnip purée
250g parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
50g smoked butter
5g thyme
5g bay
5g garlic
75ml chicken stock
125ml double cream

mustard pears
3 pears, peeled
200ml lemon juice
200g sugar
1tsp white peppercorns
1 vanilla pod
peel of 2 lemons
6 juniper berries
1 red chilli
2 star anise
6 cardamom pods
1tsp fennel seeds
2tbs mustard seeds
3tbs glucose
1tsp English mustard powder

Rhubarb at Prestonfield House


executive chef
John McMahon

For the parsnip sauerkraut, peel the parsnips down to the core in long strokes turning every stroke. Mix with salt and leave to weep at room temperature. Fill 2-3 sterilised parfait jars with the parsnips and top with cooled boiled water, then a slice of bread. Leave to ferment for at least 2 weeks.

Bring all the pickle ingredients except the brambles to the boil with 300ml of water, then take off the heat and leave to infuse overnight. Strain, and add the brambles to the liquor.

Remove any feathers and quills from the partridge then clean the birds, reserving the heart, liver and kidneys (the offal). Take off the legs and put to one side. Wash out both cavities, then pat dry and seal the birds in hot oil. Grind all the herbs and garlic together then blend with the fat and spread into both cavities of each bird. Neatly cover the birds with the bacon.

For the salt clay whip up the egg white with the salt and vinegar, then add the rosemary, bay, cloves, and zest. Stir in the flour then roll out on the table and wrap around the partridge. Bake at 180˚C for 12-15 minutes and rest for 5. Remove the breasts from the crust and the crown: these will be sealed in a pan with foaming butter to serve.

For the pie, seal the legs in the duck fat, then leave to cool and pick the meat from the bones. Simmer the alcohol with all the ingredients except the tarragon, offal, and zest for 20 minutes, then pass and reduce to a glaze. Chop the tarragon and offal and mix with the leg meat, glaze and a little duck fat. Add the orange zest and check the seasoning. Incorporate all the pastry ingredients to a smooth dough, wrap in cling film, and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes before working.

Divide and set the filling in a mould (a round edged espresso cup three quarter filled, or Yorkshire pudding tray) and chill in the fridge. Roll out a quarter of the pastry on a dusted surface and cut out circles to fit the mould, with an extra 1.5 cm round the edge. Cut out the same number of larger circles wide enough to drape the pie filling. Brush the smaller circles with egg wash and place the filling, flat side down, then drape over the large pastry circle. Gently slide a palate knife under the base of each pie, lift, and gently pinch all the way around to make a seal. Brush the top with egg wash, cut a hole in the top and season with a little Maldon salt. Chill again before cooking on either a baking mat or floured surface at 180˚C for 12 minutes or until the pastry is done.

Sweat the parsnips and herbs for the purée in the smoked butter. Add the chicken stock and reduce by two thirds, then add the cream and simmer until tender. Purée in the blender until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve and set aside.

For the mustard pears, remove the seeds from the vanilla and put to one side with the mustard seeds, mustard powder, and the peel from 1 lemon. Simmer all the other ingredients in 300ml of water for an hour, then strain and add the remaining ingredients. Vacuum pack the peeled pears in the liquid and cook until soft.

Garnish with sweet cicely and a little reduced game stock (jus).