braised partridge and puy lentils – serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
125g smoked bacon lardons
350g puy lentils
200ml red wine
500ml chicken stock
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
4 partridges
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
40g butter, 15g of it melted
2 carrots, halved lengthways cut into 4cm pieces
4 celery sticks, halved lengthways cut into 4 cm pieces
4 spring onions, trimmed cut into 4cm pieces
bunch of fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180C

Parboil the lentils for 2 minutes. this removes much of the brown colouration that would discolour the finished dish. drain
Heat the oil in a heavy casserole, add the onion, garlic and lardons and gently sauté until soft.
Add the lentils, wine, bay leaves and thyme, then add enough chicken stock to cover the lentils. Place the partridges on top, season and cover with a lid. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes
Meanwhile, heat 25g of the butter in a pan, add the carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add 100ml of water, celery and spring onions and bring to the boil.
Remove the partridge from the oven, increase the temperature to 220C and add the sautéed vegetables and juices to the casserole, around the birds. Brush the birds with melted butter and return the uncovered casserole to the oven for 10 minutes.
Serve the partridge on top of the lentils and vegetables, spoon over any cooking juices and garnish with chopped parsley.