This recipe, whose origins are from the French countryside, is adapted from Elizabeth David Classics (Alfred A. Knopf, 1980). This method of cooking keeps the birds from becoming dry and rubbery.
1⁄2 lb. brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
3 small yellow onions, peeled; 1 halved, 2 coarsely
3 medium carrots, peeled; 1 halved, 2 sliced
2 sprigs fresh parsley
4 3⁄4-lb. partridges
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. butter
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup Chicken Stock
1. Place lentils, garlic, halved onion, halved carrot, and parsley in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 1⁄2" and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and cook until lentils are very soft, about 40 minutes. Drain off excess liquid and cover lentils to keep warm.
2. Rinse partridges, pat dry, and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Tuck wings under back and tie legs with kitchen string. Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sliced carrots and cook, stirring, until onions begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add partridges, and brown, turning frequently, for 10–15 minutes.
3. Add wine and stock, stir to loosen bits from bottom of pan, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook partridges breast side down, covered, 10–12 minutes. Remove partridges, cover to keep warm, and cook juices over medium-high heat until reduced by two-thirds, about 10 minutes. Serve partridges on lentils with sauce.