Salt-crusted partridge

Matt Tebbutts trick of cooking the bird in a salty crust ensures juicy meat and intense flavour
By Matt Tebbutt
Salt-crusted partridge
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes plus 30 minutes chilling
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

For the salt crust

  • 1 kg strong white plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 600 g table salt
  • 10 egg whites
  • 250-300 ml water
  • 1-2 egg yolks

For the partridge

  • 2 oven-ready partridges, livers included
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • ready-made chicken gravy, optional

For the game crumbs

  • 125 g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 25 g butter

To serve

  • watercress

Method

1. For the salt crust: mix together the flour, salt and egg whites in a bowl. Slowly stir in the water until the mixture comes together to form a stiff dough.

2. Knead the salt crust dough on a floured work surface for about 10 minutes (or use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook) until smooth and elastic. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. For the partridge: remove the livers from the partridges and set aside. Stuff the cavity of the partridges with four cloves of the garlic, bay leaves and thyme.

4. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

5. Remove the salt crust dough from the fridge and divide in half. Roll each piece into a circle about ½cm/¼in thick, large enough to cover the partridges. Place a partridge into the middle of each circle of dough, then draw the edges up to wrap the partridge, sealing the edges together. Press out any air bubbles with your fingers.

6. Place the wrapped partridge, seam-side down, onto a baking tray and brush all over with the beaten egg yolk.

7. Bake the partridges for 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the partridge reaches 80C/180F (check using a meat thermometer). Remove from the oven and set aside to rest.

8. For the game crumbs: melt the butter in a heavy-based frying pan until foaming, then sprinkle in the breadcrumbs and toast in the butter until crisp and golden-brown. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then remove from the pan. Drain the breadcrumbs on kitchen paper if they are too greasy.

9. To serve, cut a window through the top of the salt crust and peel away to reveal the partridge inside. Place the entire salt-crusted partridge onto serving plates. Arrange some watercress alongside, along with spoonfuls of the game crumbs. Serve wiht gravy on the side, if you want.

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