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Valentine Warner: Partridges with raz-el-hanout

Serves 6

Preparation time overnight

Cooking time 1 to 2 hours

Ingredients
6 partridges
7 tsp raz-el-hanout (spice mixture available from Middle Eastern grocers)
2 handfuls golden sultanas
250ml/9fl oz water
3 medium red onions, finely chopped
80g/3oz butter or ghee
2 tbsp clear honey
flaked sea salt
3 large free-range eggs


To serve
fresh bread rolls or couscous

Method
1. The day before you plan to serve the dish, place the partridges in a large bowl and sprinkle them with the raz-el-hanout. Rub the spice into the skin and cavity. Cover and place into the fridge overnight.
2. Soak the sultanas in the water in a bowl overnight.
3. On the day of cooking, preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
4. Place the onions into a heavy casserole large enough to fit all of the partridges.
5. Add half of the butter in small pieces around the onions, then arrange the partridges side-by-side on top of the onion.
6. Sprinkle the partridges with the soaked sultanas and pour in their soaking water as well.
7. Rub the remaining butter onto the partridges, then drizzle the honey over.
8. Season with a the salt, then cover with the lid on and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
9. Turn down the oven temperature to 180C/360F/Gas 4 and cook for another 20 minutes. Baste the partridges with the pot juices.
10. Check the partridges are cooked through by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh meat. The juices should run clear. If not cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until cooked through.
11. Meanwhile, boil the eggs for ten minutes in boiling water, then leave to cool. Peel the hard-boiled eggs and cut them in half.
12. Remove the casserole from the oven and add the hard-boiled egg halves. Cover and leave to stand for ten minutes.
13. To serve, place one partridge onto each plate, with ladlefuls of sauce all around. Place an egg half alongside each.
14. Serve with fresh bread rolls or couscous.