As I've mentioned before, I occasionally get to enjoy rare cuts of meat and fowl courtesy of my boyfriend's father's hunts. A couple weeks ago they gave us a whole lot of bone-in partridge breasts. I was in the mood for a comfort food and decided we should make partridge "tenders."
Partridges are so small that when Evan cut the breasts off the bone, they were already perfectly sized for making tenders. I double-dipped each little piece in a beaten egg and a combination of bread crumbs, flour, cornmeal and spices. Then they were fried in a shallow, hot layer of canola oil in a cast iron pan for about five minutes on each side until browned. I let them rest on paper towels afterward to absorb extra oil. They were accompanied by ketchup with a dash of sriracha and a puree of potato and celery root. Not a very colorful meal, but definitely flavorful.
They tasted to me exactly like chicken tenders, which allowed me to reflect on the fact that while chicken is a staple of the average American's diet, I almost never cook it. In fact, I can't remember the last time I ate chicken, except at my parent's house, since it's what my mom always seems to make when I go there. To most people, chicken is a readily available, affordable and conveniently boneless meat. I don't think of it that way at all because I'm not interested in buying chicken from a grocery store. Cage free and free range in a grocery store usually mean nothing more than the fact that there were no cages and that there was a door to the outside that the chickens may or may not have used. Meanwhile, for whatever reason, the farmers who sell chickens at the NYC Greenmarkets sell them whole. If I want to make chicken, I have to accept the responsibility of cooking and making use of a whole bird.
Back to partridge - Later that night, we threw the bones into a pot of water for two hours to boil into stock, with a good amount of meat still clinging on. A few nights later I felt lucky to come home from work to dinner made by my boyfriend: partridge soup with carrots, onions, kale, potatoes, and barley (I try to always have some kind of pre-cooked grain like barley or quinoa stashed away in our freezer).
We have plenty more partridge and pheasant in our freezer, so I'm sure we will come up with a few more unique ways to enjoy it.