Friday, 6 November 2009

Brocciu stuffed roast partridge with cavolo nero, chestnuts, crispy panzetta and Muscat gravy

Friday, phew! Where did that week go?  Well my baby daughter has finally made her way into the World.  Four weeks ago actually and we are overjoyed…and overtired.  The better half is doing all of the feeds so I have no real excuse for feeling like the undead, kept in motion solely by espresso shots and an ever growing inbox.  What can I say?  Sharing a glass or two of pink fizzy stuff with each and every visitor takes its toll on a man.  Anyway, cast your minds back to my last post fellow gastronauts – remember I promised a recipe to honor the wild and mysterious mountains of Corsica.  Well here it is.  Give it a try – it’s pretty much a twist on an easy to prepare Sunday lunch using some produce that the wonderful people of this Mediterranean island are fiercely proud of…and rightly so.

Wait a second! Partridge, Brocciu, Panzetta, Cavolo whasisname – that’s gonna demand more than a quick trip to Tesco Express so switch it about a bit:

Partridge – use a chicken instead, simple as that. 
Brocciu – this is the real deal fantastic fresh cheese from Corsica.  Just grab a pot of ricotta instead
Cavolo Nero – use any cabbage really or Brussels sprouts.
Panzetta – Corsica’s very own pancetta.  Use pancetta or smoky bacon.
Muscat – use marsala, Madeira or any sweet fortified wine. 

Full ingredients:

Whole partridge or chicken
Brocciu – or ricotta.  Enough to stuff the bird
Lemon – zest of one, finely chopped
Flat leaf parsley – a small bunch.
Pinenuts – a handful
Garlic – one or two cloves
Fresh parmesan – quarter quantity of the ricotta
Thyme – small bunch, roughly chopped
Pancetta – a few rashers to cover the bird and a couple of rashers cubed to go with the cabbage
Cavolo nero – or any cabbage or even some lovely Brussels Sprouts, enough to serve for your guests.
Chestnuts – 5 to 7 roughly chopped, jarred or frozen are fine – fresh are better.
Unsalted butter
Muscat wine or Madeira, marsala…

·         While the oven is warming up to 180 degrees Celsius make your stuffing.  In a bowl, mix the brocciu/ricotta, lemon zest, parsley, pinenuts, garlic and parmesan.  Bulk out with a handful of  breadcrumbs if you need to.  Season with salt and pepper – and taste it, make sure it tastes good before it goes into the bird.  This is a dead easy stuffing that is really tasty, Try with any game bird.  Get confident with it and try it a few times you could squeeze in some lemon juice if you wanted to or add in some sultanas or some freshly chopped basil or thyme.  Spoon (well I just use my hands) the stuffing into the cavity of your Partridge/chicken, season all over, put a few strips of pancetta on the breast and drizzle over some olive oil and get the bird roasting in the oven.  Cook until the juices run clear –20 minutes or so for a partridge and a chicken will take much longer, double or more depending on the size.  Cut between the leg and breast and look to see what colour the juices run – gotta be clear, chicken sashimi is not a nice dish! 
·         While your chicken is cooking prepare your cabbage and boil it in salted water for just a few minutes (reserve some of the water.)  Refresh in iced water and drain.  Fry the cubed pancetta until crispy, add in your chestnuts and sprinkle in some thyme and then add your cabbage.  Leave on the side as is until just before serving.  Once you are ready to serve it just heat it through and throw in a couple of generous cubes of butter and season with salt and pepper. 
·         Make your gravy.  Using the roasting tin that the bird was cooked in pour off as much fat as you can but reserve any juices.  Sprinkle in a dessert spoon or so of flour and work the base of the pan over heat with a wooden spoon dislodging as much of the gooey caramelized juices as you can.  Splash in your muscat or marsala and cook away the alcohol for a minute or two and reduce a little.  Add in some cabbage water or stock and let bubble away to a nice rich gravy.  Taste and season as needed.
·         Serve some of your delicious pancetta cabbage on a plate and accompagny with the partridge or a few slices of chicken.  Drizzle with gravy.
·         You could muscle in some roast potatoes or parsnips with this dish quite nicely.

Eat on a cold wintery Sunday and spare a moment’s thought for leg burning treks in the thyme scented mountains of Corsica.

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