2 partridges weighing 500 g (18 oz) each
250 g (9 oz) 1 1/2 cups lentils
1 leek, white part only
150 g (5 oz) carrots
150 g (5 oz) bacon
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
2 pinches white pepper
3 small onions weighing 2 oz (50 g) each
4 tbsp dry white wine
1 cup (8 fl oz) 250 ml chicken stock
125 ml (4 fl oz) 1/2 cup soured cream
1. Put lentils into large bowl of water and pick over, tipping out floating dirt and rejects. Pour lentils into sieve, rinse well and drain thoroughly. Then put into pot, cover with water and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
2. Halve leek lengthwise, wash and dry, then cut into julienne strips. Scrape carrots under running water, dry and cut in rings. Cut rind off bacon.
3. Add prepared leek and carrots together with bacon rind to lentils and water, cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours. Add cloves and bay leaf after first 30 minutes.
4. Wash partridges inside and out, then dry and rub inside with salt, outside with pepper. Peel onions and cut into eighths. Cut bacon into 1/2 cm/1/4 in pieces.
5. Fry bacon pieces in large pan until crisp and golden, then remove from pan.
6. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Brown partridges all over in bacon fat. Remove from pan and put side by side into casserole, sprinkle with bacon fat and surround with onion pieces.
7. Roast for 30 minutes in centre of oven.
8. After 30 minutes, reduce temperature to 175°C (325°F) Gas Mark 3. Pour wine and stock over partridges, cover and continue to cook for 45 minutes more.
9. Once all cooking liquid has been absorbed by lentils, remove bay leaf, cloves and bacon rind. Season lentils with salt and pepper, then arrange in deep serving dish and keep warm.
10. Halve partridges and arrange on top of lentils.
11. Combine cooking juices from game with soured cream in small pan and reduce until smoeth and creamy, stirring frequently. Pour sauce over partridges.
12. Reheat bacon pieces briefly in pan, then scatter over partridges.
13. Serve with mashed potatoes and onion wedges browned in butter.