Dinner by Me: Roasted partridge

Most people I talk to like wild game bird, but the complaint I hear most often is it comes out too dry or has that “gamey” taste.

I have a delicious recipe for roasted partridge or game hens that is always tender and juicy. The secret to juicy wild game bird is simple — brine them before cooking. This is the secret that most chefs will never tell you about. It’s very easy and economical and requires no special cookware.

Brining is like a marinade, as it keeps food moist and tender. Brining or salting is a way of increasing the moisture holding capacity of meat resulting in a more moist product when it is cooked. Salt changes the structure of the muscle tissue in the meat, which allows it to swell and absorb water and flavorings, which, once cooked, results in a tender bird once cooked.

The following recipe for partridges I have also used with pheasant and game hens.


(serves 2; recipe can be doubled)

Prep time: 7 hours / cook time: 45 minutes


Main dish
• 2 partridges or cornish game hens
• 8 small redskin potatoes, quartered

• 1/4 c. kosher salt
• 4 c. hot tap water
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 small sprig of rosemary
• 1/4 c. of orange marmalade
• Juice and zest from a lemon and lime

• 1/2 c. of diced green onion
• 2 tbsp. butter
• 3 tbsp. apple chutney
• 3 tbsp. apple brandy
• 1 tbsp. cider vinegar
• 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
• Pinch of salt


Get your tap water as hot as it will and pour the four cups of water over the rest of the brine ingredients. Let the brine cool to room temperature and then submerge the birds in the brine, cover and refrigerate for six hours.

Remove the partridges and pat them dry with a towel. I usually let the birds sit out at room temperature for 20 minutes while I preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Get a cast iron pan or other oven-proof pan and layer it with quartered redskin potatoes. By doing this it will keep the partridges up off the bottom of the pan. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Bring the birds to an internal temperature of 160 degrees fahrenheit. Then remove the birds, tent them loosely with foil to rest, then put the pan on the stove. Turn the heat on to medium and remove the potatoes. Melt the butter in the pan and sauté the green onions until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Cook down by half and turn off the heat. Serve the sauce over the potatoes and under the birds.

Lonnie Allen is a Daily News correspondent, a former chef and is earning his journalism degree at Central Michigan University. Contact him by email at lallen@staffordmediasolutions.com.

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