Game is very common in the East Med and hunting for game is enjoyed by many irrespective of economic background. Cypriots in particular love their game and yet it is unlikely that you would find game on a restaurant menu unless you knew where to go as a local. Since moving to London and I have observed the proliferation of what is essentially ‘peasant’ Mediterranean food in high-end restaurants. This has made me even more determined to shine a light on the lesser known dishes from the East Med.
There is a lot more to Cypriot cuisine than mousaka and grilled haloumi (as good as they are). I don’t think Cypriots do themselves any favours by neutralising their traditional cuisine or at worst shying away from it. This is one of my favourite dishes and I would proudly present this on any occasion. It is hearty and earthy and packed full of flavour. It’s very simple to make and even easier to eat.
250g of pasta (I used traditional Cypriot Macaroni pasta which I bought in London)
150g of green olives (pitted and roughly chopped)
120g of chopped celery stalk
60g of butter
250ml of dry white wine
250ml of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese (I used dry anari a traditional Cypriot cheese but pecorino would be fine)
- Prepare the partridges by rinsing them, patting them dry and seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Put butter in thick bottomed pan big enough to comfortably hold both partridges side by side. Heat the butter and place partridges in the pan to seal and brown. Remove and set aside.
- Add to the same pan chopped green olives and celery. Once soft increase heat and add white wine.After 3-4 minutes reduce heat and add the partridges and water.
- Simmer on a very gentle heat for 30 minutes. This will result in a very flavoursome stock to cook the pasta in.
- Remove the partridges and allow to rest. Add the pasta to the pan. The pasta should absorb all the stock and you may need to top up with a little more water but do so only when all of the stock has been absorbed to ensure all the flavour of the stock has been retained. This approach is similar to the way in which risotto is cooked.
- Once the pasta is cooked carve the partridges into breast and legs portions. Gently fold the meat into the pasta to warm through. Serve with grated cheese.