Savor the traditional flavors of Italy with this Hungarian Partridge Arrosto Morto recipe. Expertly pan-roasted to perfection, our step-by-step guide ensures a deliciously memorable meal.
Hungarian partridge, or Huns for short, are an amazing bird to chase. In Ontario, Canada, where I reside, there isn’t a huntable population, so every Fall since 2013 I have taken a week off from the hustle-bustle and headed west to the prairies of southern Alberta to chase these incredible gamebirds.
Huns can be a difficult bird allow you to get close. They flush wild easily, sometimes as far as 60 to 70 yards and are very fast once in flight. So when you work so hard to connect with a few birds, you want to respect the Hun in the kitchen!
As far as taste goes, Huns have a mild flavor, and when cooked properly, they stay moist. Many people complain gamebirds are dry, but I’m here to tell lot of people tend to overcook them, especially while roasting them in the oven.
Arrosto morto translates to “dead roast” and is a technique for preparing meats that combines dry and wet cooking. It’s a commonly used in the Tuscany region of Italy for cooking a variety of meats, including poultry, rabbit, and veal. The meat is first browned in oil or butter, then braised in a stock. This is accomplished by adding only a small amount of liquid at a time, repeating as needed to keep the meat moist.
In this recipe, I used lardo placed on the trussed bird and tied onto the bird’s breast, so it stays on and slowly melts into the bird as it braises away in the pot. Lardo is a type of cured herbed pork fatback salumi. Bacon can be used in place of lardo, but if you can find lardo, it would be well worth the effort. Its rosemary, garlic, and other seasonings will add much more dimension to the dish.
Of all the ways you can cook small gamebirds, pot roasting small gamebirds like Huns seems to be the best. This recipe can also be used on woodcock or quail, with cooking times adjusted for the size of the bird.
The method takes longer than oven roasting, but the meat becomes very tender and falls off the bone. It is easy to eat. It’s a great way to cook and eat whole birds that have been nicely shot, as the finished product looks great! This dish packs a lot of flavor. It takes some courage to make and any stinting will spoil the dish. Be brave with cooking times, and salt.
Like many recipes online or in print, the cooking times are a guideline based on the size of the birds.
Pan Roasted Hungarian Partridge
- 4 Hungarian partridges plucked and skin on
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 4 slices of lardo or thick cut bacon
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ⅔ cup dry white wine
- 1 ¾ – 2 cups gamebird stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Kitchen twine for trussing
- Chopper Parsley For Garnish
- Pat your birds dry with some paper towels. Season them with salt and freshly ground pepper. Truss each bird with some kitchen twine. Place a bay leaf under a slice of lardo over each breast, and secure them in place with more kitchen twine across each breast.
- In a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, heat olive oil till hot. Brown the birds well all around. Keep the lid on, and check them every five minutes. Keep cooking them until they are all evenly browned, turning them every so often.
- Remove the lid, and pour in the white wine carefully, as the wine my splatter. Reduce until the wine is almost dried out, then pour in 1 3⁄4 cups of stock, put the lid on, and cook over medium-low heat for about an hour. After 30 minutes, open the lid and check to see if you need more stock. If so, add the remaining stock, and continue to cook until the birds are cooked through and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.
- Doneness will depend on age and size of each bird. If after one hour you find one bird that isn’t tender, remove the done ones and continue to cook the bird that needs more time. Add more liquid if needed.
- Remove birds from pot and serve over mashed potatoes. Pour a ladle of pan sauce over each bird, and finish by garnishing with chopped parsley.
Rossano Russo is a Canadian Italian from Ontario Canada. He is an electrician by trade with a passion for photography, hunting, and cooking. Follow him on Instagram @rossanorusso.