This Risotto with Sautéed Partridge Breasts and Apples is a very autumnal recipe. I adore autumn; there is just something to be said about the chill in the air, the colours, even the shortening days have their own attraction, with thoughts of cosy evenings and hot chocolate (even if I don’t actually drink the stuff!).
And is it just me, or does cold weather have a smell? I just love that crisp autumnal perfume!
Seasonal recipe this may be but it was far from planned. I’d actually intended to make a game pie a couple of weeks ago, something I always do to kind of kick off game season. No, not American stuff, I’m talking hunting!
Now I get my groceries delivered twice a week by the good people at Ocado and sometimes Waitrose, and they both have this mixed game selection made up of venison, partridge and pheasant, very convenient.
Partridge Breasts are perfect for this
On that particular Saturday, sadly, there was no mixed game meat to be had, one of those few times Ocado lets me down. They’d substituted with the same amount of partridge breast meat, which was alright, but not quite what I wanted.
When I moaned to the deliver guy, he convinced me to keep it and come up with something for the blog! So I did.
What to do with Partridge
I knew straight off that I was going to sauté them very simply with some garlic. Partridge doesn’t need much in terms of seasoning, it is stronger in flavour than chicken but only slightly so. It is the least gamey of game birds, so is perfect for those uncertain about stronger tasting poultry and game.
In fact, I believe that was how I introduced my kids to game. Life was so good. Then they all went vegetarian.
Partridges are very small birds and I love roasting a partridge for each diner as in this Pot Roast Partridge. So that also means that partridge breasts are fairly thin and are fantastic grilled or sautéed with a small amount of oil, taking only 1-2 minutes on each side when cooked on the stove, double the time under the grill (broiler).
Risotto with Partridge
The next question was what to serve it with. Honestly, why I settled on risotto, I couldn’t tell you, it was just an obvious choice, the gravy-less partridge sitting on the creamy risotto looked perfect in my head.
Sticking with autumnal flavours, I also decided to add some apples for a touch of sweet and sour, and because of the apples I went with cider to cook the risotto bianco instead of the customary white wine. Risotto bianco means white risotto, and it is the basic risotto recipe that you start off with before getting creative with flavours and other ingredients.
A splash of apple brandy when cooking the partridge completes the picture. No apple brandy? Just use a splash of the leftover cider from the risotto before you drink it!
On all my other risotto recipes, I suggest that if you are new to risotto cooking, head on over to the Basic Risotto page, for all things risotto. It contains everything you ever wanted to know about cooking risotto, but were to afraid to ask!
Don’t want Alcohol in your Risotto?
Leave the cider (and brandy) out completely and just be ready to use the whole amount of stock that we have in this recipe, maybe even half a cup more.
Can you Reheat Risotto?
Absolutely! In an ideal world, when you serve this Risotto with Sautéed Partridge Breasts and Apples everything will just have come off the stove and be piping hot.
However, in the real world, not all of us can multi task, and that risotto is going to cool down a little while you get your partridges and apples done. So this is what you do:
- Cook your risotto until it’s done but don’t add the second portion of butter and parmesan. Cover and leave it on the hot hob, with the fire off.
- Make sure you have about 125ml (1/2 cup) of stock left or simmering water.
- Cook your partridges. Place on a hot plate (a plate that’s been heated up) and place in a warm oven or just on the stove while you get the apples done.
- Get the apples done and finish off the risotto at the same time. Turn the stove back on under the risotto, on medium.
- Get the apples going. The apples need a minute on each side. When I’ve flipped the apples over, I turn the stove off and just leave them be while I finish the risotto.
- Back to the risotto while the apples are on the first side down. If the risotto has dried up, add a touch of stock/water, stir to soften, and when it’s fully hot again, add the butter and parmesan and stir vigorously to mix.
- Serve up!
Risotto with Partridge Ahead
The only part I would suggest making ahead is the risotto, and as described above. Stop when the risotto is cooked, before adding the butter and cheese.
Shall we get our aprons on?
More Risotti on LinsFood
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Risotto with Sautéed Partridge Breasts and Apples
- 1.5 litre hot chicken stock
- 60 g butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped fairly fine
- 250 g risotto rice
- 1 bay leaf
- 125 ml dry cider
- 60 g parmesan
- 450 g partridge breasts about 2-3 pieces each
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp apple/cider brandy or regular
- 2 medium eating apples I used braeburn
- ½ Tbsp oil
- some lemon juice and zest
- a few sprigs parsley finely chopped
- parmesan cheese flakes to serve
- freshly ground black pepper
- Place the stock on the hob and leave it simmering on low heat as you cook the risotto.
- Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a large, wide pan on medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 1 minute.
- Tip the rice in along with the bay leaf and coat thoroughly with all the lovely onion-butter mix, for about 1 minute.
- Add the cider and stir well, leave to cook on medium heat until it’s dried up, that should only take about 30 seconds. As mentioned, skip the cider if you like, and proceed to the next step.
- Add 250ml (1 cup) of the simmering stock and stir the contents of the pan. Leave to cook, stirring a couple of times until all the stock is absorbed, then add another 125ml (1/2 cup) of the stock. Keep repeating this, add, stir, let the stock be absorbed, stirring a couple of times, until you are left with the final 2 ml (1 cup). This will take about 15 minutes.
- Check the rice at the 13 minute mark. Is it cooked – soft on the outside with just a bite in the middle? Is the risotto looking creamy, like a thick version of rice pudding? If it is, it's done. If it's not, add more stock, and keep cooking. And keep checking. You shouldn't need to cook longer than 15-17 minutes.
- Then check the seasoning – does it need more salt? Add some if you think it does.
- Take off the heat. Stir in the second half of the butter and the parmesan and stir it all in thoroughly and vigorously for a whole 30 seconds. This will create an emulsion and give you that soft, stringy texture synonymous with risotto.
- Cover, and keep hot on the hot hob with the fire off.
- If you are happy to do so, start doing the partridge halfway through cooking the risotto. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the garlic for 30 seconds.
- Place the partridge breasts in the pan, and increase the heat to medium-high.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the rosemary leaves. If your frying pan isn’t big enough, do it in 2 lots, as overcrowding the pan will result in stewing the meat, not frying. Cook for 1 minute, then flip over to the other side.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper again. Cook for 1-2 minutes, pressing down on the meat with your spatula to aid the cooking. At 1 minute, the meat will be pinky done, depending on its thickness. I like to go for 2, getting a charred surface, on both sides, flipping over one more time, if need be, to get the other side brown as well.
- Transfer the partridges to a warm plate, along with all the garlic and rosemary, and any liquid. Keep warm.
- Immediately, pour the half tablespoon of oil for the apples into the same pan without cleaning the pan. Still on medium-high heat.
- Place the apples, either cut side down and leave to cook for 1 minute.
- Flip over and turn the heat off and leave it alone while you dish up.
- Dish up the risotto into plates.
- Top with 2-3 partridge breasts, depending on number of diners. Drizzle any juice all over the risotto.
- Place a few apple slices on the side or all around, as in the images above.
- Squeeze some lemon juice all over the partridge.
- And sprinkle some parsley and lemon zest, some parmesan flakes, top with freshly ground black pepper and serve up!