Once, whilst channel hopping in a hotel in deepest Hertfordshire, I stumbled upon a re-run of Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory. For those that don’t know, Londoner William “Willie” George Harcourt-Cooze grew, imported and produced his own chocolate and Channel 4 made a fly-on-the-wall documentary about it.
I found the programme fascinating and I soon learned to love Willie and his chocolate exploits.
Now fast forward a few years and with my Tea Cargo hat on I was attending a food and drink exhibition, I cannot remember which but I am sure it was at Olympia in London. Anyway, coming towards the end of the show I ambled along an isle making way towards the exit when I heard a voice ask if I liked chocolate. When I looked over my shoulder it was coming from Willie’s chocolate stand and there was Willie and he was talking to me.
I admitted that I ate chocolate once or twice a year especially Toblerone straight from the fridge. We got talking… I told him about channel hopping and discovering his TV series… one thing led to another which inevitably moved towards food. He gave me his recipe for this:
8 oven-ready partridges
75g goose fat
4 tbsp cacao, finely grated
4 shallots, peeled and sliced
24 slices pancetta
Preheat oven to 200ºC | 390º F | Gas 5
Place the goose fat and cacao in a small pan and heat until the goose fat has melted, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool.
Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the shallots and fry until soft.
Season the partridges then add them to the pan, along with the shallots. Fry the birds until golden brown then remove from the pan. Leave to cool slightly, reserving the shallots and cooking juices for gravy.
Use a pastry brush to paint the birds with the chocolate goose fat. Wrap 3 slices of pancetta around each partridge, sprinkle over the thyme and roast for 25-30 minutes.
Leave the birds to rest before serving with gravy and roast vegetables.
He also gave me a block of 100% pure Nicaraguan Black which I still have today. I gave him my Tea Cargo business card and he promised to buy some of our organic Puerh tea. He never did.