BY RICHARD MOOREY
Ahhh October! Summer is definitely in the rear view mirror with the days getting noticeably shorter and temperatures cooling down. The golden and auburn colours adorning the trees are taking quickly into the months of ice and snow. But the sun is still warm enough to take the crisp edge out of the air after shining for a while in the morning sky and is still out long enough in the evening for some outdoor cooking.
This is perfect weather for the Northwestern Ontario outdoors enthusiast - particularly hunters. Weekends in northern country during the fall are a fantastic time to incorporate some great autumn camping, a little hunting and some serious grilling of delicious game. With the simplicity and minimalist style of camp cooking, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a little fall outdoors activity mixed with some smashmouth flavours.
Hunting season is well on its way here in the north, and whether you are into small game or (catching) the big one, there really is nothing quite like that meal that you get to enjoy around the campfire. It’s those meals that you earn yourself, and the camaraderie that comes after a day of hard work pushing bush with close friends, that really make the flavours of the great outdoors something special. Of course a little fire licked, smoke-infused, spice-rubbed tastitude might have something to do with it but there is something to be said for food you have to work for. You appreciate it just that much more.
Wild game in Northwestern Ontario is almost as varied as the number of ways there are to prepare it. For me, there is just something about preparing and sharing some delicious wild partridge that just makes it truly seem like fall. Partridge is a delicate meat with subtle flavours that works well in so many recipes. From braised or stewed to roasted or grilled, it really does encapsulate all that is delicious and good about game birds and is one of my favourite fall flavours.
So this week try to take advantage of some great weather, game and grilling and all that is amazing about northern living while fall is still on the soft side. Here is one of my favourite takes on partridge that I hope will have you enjoying this NWO game bird for dinner as much as I do while you make some of your own culinary adventures.
Chef House’s Fire Licked Grilled Lemon and Thyme Partridge
- 2 small partridges, backbone removed, breastbone removed, butterflied
- 4 tbs. good olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper
Crush the garlic cloves. Whisk the oil, cayenne, lemon juice, crushed garlic, thyme leaves and salt and pepper together. Pour over the birds in a glass dish and rub the marinade inside and out.
Cover and leave in the fridge or a cooler with ice for two hours.
Grill the birds for around ten minutes on each side, until lightly charred and reaches and internal temperature of 168F.