Partridge Schnitzel and Meatball, Red Pepper Sauce, Corn and Zucchini

Hungary is a game paradise! Partridges (fogoly in magyar) are plentiful, for example, and they’re usually hunted in corn fields. This recipe combines the bird and its feed, with delicious results. The partridge is prepared two ways — as a schnitzel and a meatball.

You can’t find Hungarian partridge for sale in the U.S., but you can buy Scottish red-legged partridge from D’Artagnan. Obviously, the birds you get won’t necessarily be the same size as the ones I’m using here. For the meatballs, scale the ingredients up or down accordingly.

Red pepper sauce
Yields 4 servings

16 oz sliced red peppers
3 oz sliced shallots
1 oz olive oil
11 oz tomatoes, large dice

  • Process the red peppers in a blender until smooth. Pass through a chinois, and reserve.
  • Sauté the shallots in olive oil until translucent. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the red pepper liquid and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Process in a blender, pass through a chinois, and reserve.

Partridge fabrication
Yields 4 servings

2 partridges, about 12 oz each

  • Separate the wings, legs and breasts. Pick the meat off the wings, legs and carcasses, and refrigerate.
  • Discard the skin and silverskin from the breasts. Pound to a 4″ or 5″ diameter disc between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

Partridge meatballs
Yields 4 servings

1 oz bread, crust removed
1/2 cup milk
2 oz shallot, sliced
1 tbsp butter
8 oz partrige meat (from the wings, legs, and carcasses)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
1 egg, beaten
canola oil
red pepper sauce

  • Soak the bread in the milk for 20 minutes, then squeeze the milk out and chop coarsely.
  • Sweat the shallot in the butter until translucent, and let cool.
  • Grind the partridge meat once with the medium die. Place into a bowl and mix in the bread, shallots, salt, pepper, paprika and thyme. Grind the resulting forcemeat again, with medium die, then add the beaten egg, rectify the seasoning and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a large saucepan bring the red pepper sauce to a simmer.
  • In a deep pot, heat the canola oil to 375 F. Shape the forcemeat into 4 meatballs, and deep-fry until brown.
  • Take the meatballs out of the oil, dry on paper towels, and add to the red pepper sauce. Simmer for 45 minutes, then let cool and reserve.

Corn and zucchini
Yields 4 servings

1 corn ear, in husk
4 oz zucchini, small dice
1 oz butter

  • Cook the corn in its husk in salted boiling water for 20 minutes. Let cool and cut the kernels off the ear.
  • Cut the zucchini into small dice, roughly the size of the corn kernels. Sauté in a saucepan with the butter, season with salt and pepper, and cook until it starts to brown. Dry on a paper towel.
  • Mix the corn and zucchini, and reserve.

Yields 4 servings

partridge meatballs in red pepper sauce
corn and zucchini
1/2 oz butter
canola oil (for deep-frying)
3 oz flour
1 egg, beaten
6 oz breadcrumbs
partridge breasts
black pepper, ground
1 oz brown butter, warm
4 lemon segments, membrane removed

  • Reheat the meatballs in a saucepan.
  • Reheat the corn and zucchini with a little bit of butter in a saucepan.
  • Heat the canola oil to 375 F in a deep-fryer. Place the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Season the partridge breasts with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece with flour, then coat with egg and cover with breadcrumbs on both sides. Deep fry in the oil until lightly golden, then drain on paper towels. It’s important to remove the schnitzels before they get too dark. I find that partridge is best eaten medium. You definitely don’t want to overcook it, or it will get dry. Brush each piece with brown butter.
  • Dress the plates as pictured, including lemon segments on top, and serve immediately.

Fall 2011: Game Recipes

Whether you just buy the meat or try to kill the animals yourself, game is back in season! Here are some recipes you might want to try:

Partridge Breast and Dumplings in Tokaji Sauce

Up until the first world war, Hungary and Bohemia boasted several great estates for partridge shooting. Thousand of gray partridges were then exported to North America, making them one of the principal game birds here to this day. Although the only American partridges you will find in stores are farmed, a curious loophole allows the sale of real Scottish game birds in the US. I get mine from D’Artagnan.

This dish is inspired by several recipes from The Derrydale Game Cookbook, a hunting classic published in the 1930’s that teaches you to cook anything from squirrel to black bear, with a surprising number of Eastern-Europe-inflected entries. The gamy flavor of partridge pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of Tokaji, a Hungarian dessert wine that counts among my favorites.

The proportions yield more dumplings than you will need; use the leftovers in a winter soup.

Brioche breadcrumbs
Yields a bit more than 2 oz

4 oz brioche, thinly sliced

  • Place the brioche on a sheet tray, and dry in 300 F oven for 20 minutes, flipping the slices after 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.
  • Transfer to a blender, and process until all the chunks are gone.

Partridge dumplings
Yields 14 dumplings (4 servings plus leftovers)

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 oz butter, soft
8 oz partridge meat (from the legs and wings), coarsely chopped
1 oz partridge (or chicken) liver
1/8 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp porcini powder
2 oz brioche breadcrumbs
2 1/2 cups partridge (or chicken) stock
olive oil

  • Place the eggs, egg yolk, butter, partridge meat and liver into a blender (or food processor), and process until smooth.
  • Season with salt and pepper, add the garam masala, porcini powder and breadcrumbs, and mix well. To adjust the seasoning, cook a small bit of the preparation in a pan and taste it. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • In a pot, bring the stock to a boil. Shape 14 round dumplings out of the partridge mixture, and cook in the boiling stock for about 6 minutes, a few dumplings at a time. Reserve. Keep the stock for the Tokaji sauce.
  • Before serving, sauté the dumplings in a hot pan with olive oil, until golden-brown on all sides.

Partridge breasts
Yields 4 servings

breasts of 2 partridges, skin on
2 thyme sprigs, stems removed
1/2 oz butter

  • Season the breasts with salt and pepper on both sides, then sprinkle with thyme. Place in a sous-vide pouch with the butter, and cook in a 136 F water bath for 1 hour.
  • Before serving, sauté the breasts skin side down in a hot pan with the butter from the sous-vide pouch.

Tokaji sauce
Yields about 4 servings

stock from partridge dumplings
2 1/2 oz sweet Tokaji wine (e.g. Tokaji 3 puttonyos)
1/2 oz butter

  • In a saucepan over high heat, reduce the stock to about 1/4.
  • Add the Tokaji wine, and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
  • Whisk in the butter before serving.