Robin Follette

It’s a sad day when I get to the last packages of partridge (ruffed grouse) in the freezer. Our hunting season ended on December 31 in Maine. It was a good season, there were plenty of birds to eat and we left a strong population for spring breeding. Our daily bag limit is four, but we can’t have more than eight in our possession. That’s 16 birds in our house and since they’re small, that’s not a lot of meals. I stretch them as far as possible. These are some of my favorite recipes.

Partridge can have a strong flavor, especially late in the season when they’ve switched from fruit and fresh greens to tree buds. Adjust your seasoning in the bread crumbs based on the flavor of your birds. You’ll probably have a strong bird you haven’t seasoned enough now and then. For all the birds we’ve eaten, only two or three were too strong to enjoy. I chopped up the cooked meat and used it in chili.

Oven Baked Partridge Breast

  • 1 whole breast (one breast is both sides) per person
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, unflavored
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbl Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbl smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbl all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten

Combine all dry ingredients.

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Check each breast for pellets. Dip into the beaten egg then directly into the bread crumb mixture. Let sit for a few minutes to be sure the crumbs stick to the meat. If you want a thicker breading, you can dip the meat in the egg and then the crumbs a second time. Arrange each piece on a baking sheet, spritz with olive oil, and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

Pan Fried Partridge Fingers

Follow the recipe and instructions for Oven Baked Partridge but slice the meat into one-inch strips. Heat olive oil to 350° in a heavy skillet. Pan fry on each side for two minutes.

If there are leftovers – place the partridge fingers side by side, touching each other, and place a slice of Provolone or Swiss cheese on top. Warm in the oven at 350° for about five minutes. While the fingers are heating, prepare your bread for a sandwich. I like plain mayo but if you want something spicier, add a little pesto sauce to your mayo. Delicious!

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Maple Mustard Glaze

  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 to 2 Tbl Winter or similar ground mustard
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Mix the maple syrup and mustard in a small sauce pan. Warm over medium-low heat. When warm, mix in the cornstarch with a whisk. Let cool.

I like to use partridge “fingers” for this glaze. Marinate one-inch thick strips of meat in the glaze for an hour. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. If you’d like the meat to brown, you can put it under the broiler for a minute or two. I use Raye’s Mustard. It’s local, full of flavor and has the perfect texture for the glaze.

Partridge & Brie Pears

It sounds fancy but this recipe is easy.

  • 1 pear per person
  • 1/2 breast per person
  • 1/4 oz Brie per serving
  • ½ oz fruit vinegar per serving

I discovered Mange’ Fresh Fruit vinegar at Boston Public Market. The tiny sample was enough to convince me to buy three bottles. If you don’t have this brand locally, you can order online or find something similar at the grocery store. My favorite for this dish is blackberry.

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Slice the pears in half lengthwise. Take a small slice off the round side of the half pear so that it lies flat on the pan. Scoop out the core. Add a teaspoon of fruit vinegar to each pear half. Slice the meat into two inch strips and lay across the pear. Top with small slices of Brie and drizzle with vinegar.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.