Partridge is a delicacy that you simply can’t afford to miss out on. Evidence suggests that it has been eaten since at least the Roman era. Later on, after the evolution of hunting during the Middle Ages, partridge became a delicacy reserved for the wealthy. Toledo-style partridge (perdiz a la toledana) harks back to that era and the city’s aristocratic past, being the seat of monarchial power from the 12th to the 16th century.
In my house it is a recipe with a long history that I learnt to make from my mother. My father was in charge of hunting and plucking them, with my mum cooking the dish itself. It was often the centrepiece of our Christmas table along with the other treats on offer. This is the recipe I was taught and still use to this day:
- Olive oil
- Two onions chopped into wedges
- One head of garlic
- 4 or 5 peppers
- Half a glass of white wine
- A dash of vinegar
- Half a glass of water
- Two or three sprigs of thyme
- A bay leaf
- Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Salt the partridges and put them in the pan before the oil reaches boiling.
- Once they are golden brown add the onion, bay leaf, head of garlic and peppers.
- Gently fry the onion on a low heat until it too is golden brown.
- Add the white wine and a splash of vinegar.
- When it reaches the boil add the water.
- Bring it back to the boil and leave it to simmer for two to three hours (until the partridge is tender)
- Add the sprigs of thyme while it simmers.
You can either make them yourselves or come to Toledo to enjoy them. One restaurant where they’ve been making them for more than 100 years since its opening in 1891 is Venta de Aires, nestled alongside the Roman circus.