- 2 x 375g oven-ready partridges
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Small handful fresh thyme, leaves picked
- 30g butter, softened, plus 15g extra for the sauce
- 4 streaky bacon rashers, halved widthways
- 6 shallots
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 300ml red wine
- 200ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
- Parsnip chips (see tip), to serve
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Season the partridges’ cavities with salt and black pepper, and pop a bay leaf and half the thyme in each one. Rub the skin of each partridge with the softened butter and season well. Lay the bacon over the top of the birds and put in a small roasting tin, so they fit snugly.
- Put the whole shallots and the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry for 6-8 minutes until just golden. Spoon the shallots around the birds in the tin, pour in 200ml of wine and a splash of water, cover with foil and cook for 25 minutes.
- Remove the foil, place the bacon on a small baking sheet and roast the birds and bacon for a further 10 minutes, until the partridges are golden brown and the bacon is crisp.
- Remove the birds from the tin onto a warm serving plate with the bacon, cover with foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes while you make the sauce.
- Place the roasting tin on the hob over a high heat, add the rest of the wine, stir and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Add the stock and simmer for a further few minutes. Add the vinegar and butter, whisk well and season to taste. Simmer until the sauce has turned slightly syrupy.
- Put a bird on each plate, lay the crispy bacon on top, sprinkle some parsnip chips around and serve with the sauce, sautéed spring cabbage with bacon, and some bread sauce.
- To marry well with the balsamic shallot sauce, go for a smooth, juicy Pinot Noir.