Some persons don’t like to eat quail. My mother – who was very fond of food – was one; although she did eat the quail saltimbocca that was the centrepiece of our 2006 wedding feast.
Maggie likes quail. A lot. She introduced it to my diet – now, there’s an oxymoron for you – and there are now three quail recipes in our repertoire. The other two were added in 2013: quail involtini, for which Maggie did the boning; and roast stuffed quail. We cooked the latter again last weekend.
We first put this recipe together using a list of ingredients – names only – buried in an anecdotal piece about cooking quail by the much-admired Maggie Beer. This time we introduced two alternative ingredients, as indicated, to take advantage of cherries we had pickled and chestnuts we had roasted. Either way, the result is delightful.
½ cup brown rice
2 French shallots, finely chopped
grated zest of 1 orange
50g currants; or 40g pickled cherries, pips removed and flesh chopped
50g almond flakes, crushed by hand; or 50g roasted chestnut, chopped
leaves from 3 sprigs thyme
salt and pepper
4 quails (we cooked 3 but there is enough stuffing for 4)
- Cook the rice in plenty of salted, boiling water for 35 minutes; it must be tender. Drain and place in a mixing bowl.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small, non-stick pan and sauté the shallot for about 12 minutes, until it is quite soft. Add shallot to rice.
- Add fruit, nuts and thyme leaves, stir, season well and mix thoroughly.
- Remove the last wing segments from the quail and divide the stuffing between the four quail cavities; use less rather than pack the stuffing tightly.
- Place quail in a small ceramic or glass roasting dish lined with baking paper, brush upper quail surfaces with olive oil and roast in an oven pre-heated to 180C. Baste after 10 minutes and 20 minutes.
- Stuffed quail cook more slowly, so it should take up to 25 minutes to produce quail that are a light, golden brown.
To accompany the quail, we roasted some well-seasoned pieces of kipfler potato and parsnip with olive oil, garlic and chopped rosemary leaves; and we wilted a bunch of spinach leaves and mixed them with Dijon mustard and cooking cream.