3rd December 2012

Partridge, cress and chestnut

By MaitreMarcel

Partridge has a longer name than its size. They have about the size of a grouse, between a quail and a pheasant.

In French cuisine, young hen birds called perdreau are used. They are hunted but also farmed.

I bought a perdreau on the market and was told to watch out for small lead bullets.

When I prepared the bird, there were no bullets and the grains in the stomach content could also have been from feeding. I made “papilotes” of the bird.
Water cress is available abundantly at the moment but I do not like it much when raw, so I cooked it lightly and mixed it with cream and agar agar into a mousse.

I also added chestnuts which are in season.

Ingredients for two

  • One partridge hen
  • Slices of pancetta (or bacon)
  • A lemon
  • Cream
  • A bunch of water cress
  • Some chestnuts (I used them prepared, if you use raw chestnuts you have to cross the skin and put the chestnuts in a hot oven for 30-45 minutes, then let it cool down before peeling)
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Agar agar
  • Paper or tin foil


  1. Cut the partridge in two halves, clean the inside and leave those innards that you feel comfortable with (liver, hart).
  2. Take two slices of lemon.
  3. Take two rounds of paper or aluminium foil. Place the half partridge, skin down on the paper/foil with a slice of pancetta and a slice of lemon on the inside (topside).
  4. Add pepper, fold the paper papillotes and close with a piece of string.
  5. Put in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes on 150 degrees. (It can be shorter at a higher temperature) but this buys sufficient time for the rest.
  6. Wash the cress in water with vinegar. Dry the cress and cut off the stems.
  7. In a large pan, bring a large quantity of slightly salted water water to the boil, plunge in the cress and cook for a minute or two.
  8. Pass the water and cress through a sieve or colander.
  9. Reserve the cress and put it in a blender, add a few spoonfuls of cream and continue blending.
  10. Pass through sieve or colander again into a small pan.
  11. Heat the pan lightly until the liquid is cooking and add a few tea spoons of agar agar.
  12. Then take it off the heat and let it cool.
  13. Pour it into a shallow and flat form (I coated the form with plastic foil so that the mouse gets out easier when set).
  14. Allow the agar agar to set (you can put it in the refrigerator). 
  15. Crush the chestnuts.
  16. When ready to serve, place a layer of cress mousse on a plate, put the partridge half on top and sprinkle with crushed chestnuts.