Partridge casserole with caramelised onions & bacon

by Emily Lampson

Emily Watkins of The Kingham Plough brings out the best of key seasonal ingredients


For the game stock:
3 litres brown chicken stock
Bones and drumsticks from 6 partridges (or 4 pheasants or a combination of both), chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
1 star anise

For the casserole:
3 tbsp olive oil
200g button onions
50g butter
30g sugar
175ml sherry
200g bacon lardons
6 partridges, jointed into breasts and thighs
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
160g pearl barley (or orzo, pinhead oats etc)
2 large tomatoes, skinned and diced
Handful of kale or cavolo nero, shredded


First make the stock. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Place all the ingredients excluding the chicken stock in a roasting pan with some oil and put in the oven. Turn the ingredients every 20 mins for about 1 hour, until they are golden and aromatic. Tip it all into a stock pot, cover with the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, skimming off any sediment that rises to the top.

Pass the stock through a fine sieve into a container and chill or freeze until needed.

Place a frying pan on a medium high heat with some oil and add the onions. As they start to turn golden, add the butter and when it starts to foam, add the sugar. As soon as it has caramelised and the onions are evenly golden, add the sherry and cook until reduced by two-thirds. Set aside until needed.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, add the bacon lardons and the partridge joints and cook until golden. Add the carrot and cook for 2 mins, until softening, then add the barley, season and stir well. Leave for 1 min.

Add the tomatoes and the stock, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. When the barley and partridge are just cooked, add the greens and the caramalised onions with all the juices, season and serve immediately.

Recipe: Emily Watkins