Chinese flavours add spice and warmth to common plate-fellows partridge and cabbage in this easy and delicious recipe, writes Laura Paton

credit: Archant

It is often said that there are only two ways to cook partridge – roasting and pot-roasting – however, that doesn’t mean to say that there are limited ways to flavour it.

For this dish, I was inspired by someone telling me recently that one of the colours considered to be lucky in Chinese culture is red. As luck would have it, a brace of red legs was gifted to me and so it seemed fitting that this partridge dish should borrow some aromatic flavours from the Orient.

Chinese five-spice powder (a symbolic rather than a literal name) is a blend of star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, nutmeg, Sichuan pepper and ginger. It brings a warm, spicy-sweet flavour to roast meat and works particularly well with the gamey flavour of partridge.

This small, plump bird has a stronger game flavour than pheasant, but not as strong as pigeon, and has slightly firmer flesh. The two most common species are the red leg (or French) and the grey leg (or English) – the French being the plumper.

Partridge and cabbage can be found happily sharing a plate on many a menu, due to their shared seasonality and the sweet, mildly earthy flavour of cooked cabbage that works well with both delicate and bold flavoured meats.

Roast five-spice partridge with ginger and soy cabbage

Serves 2

Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour


For the partridge:

? butter

? 2 x oven-ready partridge

? 1 tsp Chinese five spice

? 2 kaffir lime leaves

For the sauce:

? 1 x clove of garlic, finely sliced

? 1 x banana shallot, finely sliced

? 1 tbsp cider vinegar

? 200ml chicken stock

? butter

For the cabbage:

? Groundnut oil

? ½ savoy cabbage, cored and sliced into 2-inch strips

? 1-inch piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped

? 1 tbsp soy sauce

To serve:

? Chinese vermicelli noodles

? lime wedges

? spring onions, finely sliced


1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Rub each partridge generously with butter, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon five spice, and place a little butter and a kaffir lime leaf in the cavity.

3. Place in a roasting tin and roast for 25-30 minutes until golden.

4. Remove the partridge from the oven. Leave to rest in the pan, breast-side down.

5. Steam or boil the cabbage for 3-4 minutes. Refresh in cold water and drain.

6. Remove the partridge from the pan, place on a plate and cover with some foil to keep warm.

7. Remove some of the fat from the roasting tin, leaving just enough to fry the garlic and shallots in. Place the pan on the hob over a medium heat, add the shallots and garlic. After a few minutes, pour in the vinegar and increase the heat to a rapid boil. Add the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.

8. Pour the sauce into a smaller pan then add an ice cube (see top tip), bring to the boil, skim the surface, and boil until it has thickened slightly and you have a sauce-like consistency. Pass through a sieve, return to the pan and bring back to the boil. Stir in a knob of butter. Season to taste.

9. Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot. Add ½ tbsp of groundnut oil and when it is very hot and smoking slightly, add the ginger and stir fry for 30 seconds. Then add the cabbage and stir fry for a few minutes until just tender. Stir in the soy sauce and allow to bubble for another minute.

10. Joint the partridge and serve on top of the cabbage with vermicelli noodles, and garnish with spring onion and lime wedges.