Partridges with Orange and Vermouth Sauce

A sophisticated dinnerparty dish, Partridges with Orange and Vermouth Sauce may be served with sauteed potatoes and buttered broccoli. A smooth red claret would be the perfect accompaniment.

4 young partridges, halved

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 oz. butter

1 small onion, chopped

6 fl. oz. chicken stock

4 fl. oz. dry vermouth

1 fl. oz. fresh orange juice

1 fl. oz. double cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon beurre manie oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

Sprinkle the partridges, inside and out, with half the salt and pepper.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam sub-sides, add the partridge halves and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until they are lightly and evenly browned. Cover the pan and cook for a further 12 to 15 minutes on each side or until the partridges are tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

Using tongs or two large spoons, trans-fer the partridge halves to a warmed serving dish. Keep warm while you make the sauce.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onion and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until it is soft and translucent but not brown.

Pour in the chicken stock and vermouth and add the remaining salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and boil for 5 to 7 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about one-third.

Reduce the heat to moderate and add the orange juice, cream and chives. Gradually stir in the beurre manie, a small piece at a time. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce is smooth and thick and hot but not boiling.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the sauce over the partridges. Garnish with the orange slices and serve immediately.

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