Recipe by Louis Cunningham Hughes

Louis, using one of the Pipers Farm partridges that had been on display over our Chefs Stage, demonstrated this recipe during our final ‘Mash-Up’ demo, rounding off the 2016 Festival.

“Autumn is a contradiction: it is neither summer nor winter; golden leaves fall in the glare of a warming sun but the cold, sharp wind still manages to take us by surprise. Likewise, Perdiz en Escabeche is a contrast of flavours, mixing the sweet and the sour, the earthy meats against the honeyed sauce. The name en Escabeche comes from the Moorish ‘al sikbaj’ which derives from the Persian ‘sik’ meaning vinegar.

I was given the recipe during a wine tasting with Manna from Devon in Dominio Buenavista, in the Alpujarras. It is normally a low heat, slow cooked affair, almost forgotten in the stove until it is time to eat. However, I have done a speeded up version as my time on the demonstration stage was limited!”

Louis Cunningham Hughes is a Freelance Chef, Food stylist, Blogger on food and wine, and Food Writer.

Ingredients

  • A handful of sultanas
  • A handful of toasted flaked almonds
  • 4 partridge breast fillets
  • 1 small onion or 1 banana shallot finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic pureed or finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 1 stick celery (optional but adds peppery flavour)
  • 150ml Fino Sherry (Amontillado is a slightly richer alternative) plus extra for the sultanas
  • 150ml White wine vinegar
  • Honey (pouring kind)
  • Parsley for garnish roughly chopped

Alternatives to partridge are rabbit, hare, other game birds and chicken.

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7.

If the duck is tied, untruss it and gently pull the legs away from the body (to encourage the heat to penetrate). Season the skin well with salt and pepper. Put the duck in a roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes, so the fat starts to run.

Baste the bird with the pan juices and cover tightly with foil. Return to the oven, lowering the setting to 150°C/Gas 2. Cook for 2–3 hours until the meat is very tender and easily comes away from the bone. Tip the bird so any juices in the cavity run into the tin. Transfer the duck to a warm plate to rest.

Carefully pour off most of the fat from the roasting tin (save for roasting potatoes), leaving the dark juices in the tin. Put the tin over a low heat, add the ginger, garlic and chilli flakes and cook for 2–3 minutes. Add 4–5 tablespoons water and the soy sauce, followed by all but a few of the

Meanwhile, deglaze the frying pan with the wine and vinegar mix, add the sweated onions and garlic and bring to the boil reduce by two thirds. Add a knob of butter to give it extra richness and gloss. Stir in the honey using a teaspoon at a time to get the balance you want. It should be tart but with a soothing honey sweetness. Drain the sultanas and add to the sauce to heat through.

To serve, place the fillets on a plate, spoon over the onion and sultanas and then the sauce. Take some flaked almonds and lightly crush them in your fist. Scatter over the meat and sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Saffron rice or sautéed potatoes go well with this, alternatively a chunk of fresh bread, and a glass of sherry.