Here’s a great recipe for this time of year when Partridge is young and tender. The woody taste of the mushrooms complements the lentils and makes a great accompaniment.
2 slices of pancetta
25-50g puy lentils (uncooked)
1 smallish banana shallot
A mixture of about 100g earthy mushrooms (I used shitake and field mushrooms)
Half a small pear
4 or 5 juniper berries
A few sprigs of thyme
Peel and chop the shallot finely
Wipe the mushrooms and slice
Mash the thyme and juniper berries into half the butter with a little salt and pepper
Core and slice the pear into ‘rounds’ about half a cm thick
Heat the oven to 200c
Rinse the lentils and put them into a pan of cold water with a little salt
Smear the mashed up butter over the breast of the partridge, then cover with pancetta slices
Put the bird on a roasting dish in the oven
Cook the lentils by bringing to the boil and
Now, pan fry the shallot and the mushrooms in a mix of butter and oil in separate pans
Once the shallot is caramelised around the edge add to the mushrooms and mix in the lemon juice
Pan fry the pear slices in a little butter till they are just caramelised at the edges
After 20 minutes put the pear slices into the roasting dish alongside the partridge and remove the pancetta if it’s crispy.
After 25-30 minutes drain the lentils and stir through the mushroom and onion mix. Break up the pancetta and add to the mixture.
Check the partridge and if it’s cooked, serve on a bed of mushroom and lentils, with pear slices at the side and with any pan juices poured over
Serve with spinach or cavola nero.