Kerri Henman -


December 15, 2015

On The First Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me…

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A Partridge in a Pear Tree

OK – first, I’d like to point out that partridge don’t live in pear trees. They are, for the most part, a ground-dwelling bird who will build their nests under shrubs, or in burrows left behind by gophers or rabbits.  But hey – details.

I grew up eating partridge. Dad was a hunter, and every chance he got to bring home partridge, he would. Except for that one time that the dog beat him to it.  Partridge is lovely and delicate, with a kind of earthy sweetness to it. It’s quite lean, so brining or marinating is a good call, as is basting, if you decide to roast the bird. A slow braise works beautifully with partridge – it’s fall-off-the-bone tender in a very short period of time.

If you’re having a small Christmas – four or five people – partridge can make a nice replacement for turkey. The birds are small – one per person is not unreasonable, depending on appetite and desire for leftovers. You can find them fresh at a specialty butcher; Whole Foods will sometimes be able to order them in, if there’s one close by. Here in Toronto, WhiteHouse Meats either have them, or will get them for you, and the price is fair.

If you want to roast and stuff these gorgeous creatures, here’s a very easy recipe to follow for roasting. The bacon keeps the bird moist, and it’s so quick, it will free up your day for the important things. Like finishing the bottle of champagne you opened for breakfast. And watching The Ref. As for the stuffing – a partridge needs a pear tree…. In this case, a walnut and pear stuffing that’s easy and delicious. The fruit is a nice counterpoint to the earthiness of the bird.  Prepare sides of mashed sweet potatoes with a bit of apple, and roasted brussels sprouts – dinner’s ready!

NOW – what to drink?A good Provencal Rose will be perfect. One of my favourites is Domaine Lafond’s Roc Epine Tavel. It’s wonderfully dry, with fresh bright fruit, and a soft, subtle spice note on the finish. If you can find it (the new vintage is juuuust releasing now!) then Cline’s Mourvedre Rose is a delicious pairing. Again – a dry rose, with some beautiful depth, and lovely red fruit flavours. This is a wine to buy a case of – you’ll want more as soon as you open that first bottle.

Merry Christmas!

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