The best partridges we ever tasted were cooked by a professor. His name is Emídio Gomes. He is the rector of the UTAD, the university that trained many of the star enologists who work in the Douro valley.
Emídio learned to cook while studying in France on a meager scholarship. He asked his grandmother to teach him some of her recipes so that he could eat at home. Cooking was so relaxing that he continued to cook regularly after returning to Portugal.
Emídio’s stewed partridges are renowned throughout the Douro valley. The professor generously gave us his grandmother’s recipe and allowed us to share it with our readers.
The recipe starts with an admonition: “If the partridges are good, make sure you don’t ruin them.” Here’s the rest.
Remove the feathers and the tripes of the wild partridges and cut them into pieces. Marinate them for twelve hours in a small amount of white wine, laurel, parsley, and a little thyme.
Heat a cast iron pot. Pour a generous amount of olive oil. The quality of the olive oil is paramount. Choose an olive oil with low acidity, ideally from the Douro valley. Slice enough onions to cover the bottom 2 inches of the pot. Slowly sweat the onions. Remove the thyme, laurel, and parsley, and place the partridges in the pot. Add a small amount of water to prevent the stew from drying.
Cover the pot with the lid and slowly stew the partridges for four to five hours. Monitor periodically to ensure the stew does not dry; add small amounts of water as necessary. Season with salt towards the end of the cooking period. After the first four hours, regularly pierce the meat with a fork. The partridge is ready when the meat offers no resistance. Serve with white rice and toasts.
Like a top scientific paper, the recipe requires high-quality content and flawless execution. And in the end, the results look deceptively simple.