So, to finish posting about our weekend of late-summer cooking, here is the story of what we did with the two quail that we brought home from Donati’s.
Many of the world’s cuisines include dishes made with quail. Until now, we have gone with European recipes: a saltimbocca style with sweet and sour pears; an involtini method with Italian flavours; and roast stuffed quail with some Mediterranean influences. This time, we wanted to barbecue the quail. A google search didn’t turn up anything mouth-watering, so we turned to Stephanie Alexander and found something interesting that would take us outside our usual flavour palette.
The recipe used a paste made from coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, cloves and cumin seeds, to be ground and then combined with curry powder, salt, melted butter and grated ginger. We substituted powdered cardamom and ginger for the raw materials, reduced the volume of pepper – many spice mixes overuse this ingredient – and used butter that was quite soft enough already on a warm summer’s day! Tasting it, I found it to be a bit astringent, so I added a little dark brown sugar and that was the paste sorted.
Meanwhile, Maggie butterflied the quail and tidied them up. She placed some of the paste on the breast meat under the skin; the balance was reserved for basting the quail while it was grilling on the barbecue. For this dish, we kept the gas flame fairly low once the Weber had heated up and that worked – the quail were cooked through but only lightly charred.
For a side dish, Stephanie recommended some fried coconut. This involves garlic and spring (green) onion (scallion), sliced and fried in vegetable oil over medium-high heat until just starting to colour. Then you add some ground coriander and cumin and desiccated coconut, toss and fry briefly and transfer to a serving bowl before it overcooks. We preferred to use shredded coconut; otherwise, the recipe worked well.
The meal needed something more to round it out and there was a big ripe tomato from our Greek neighbours giving out a “pick me, pick me” vibe. In my well-thumbed book of curries-for-dummies, I found a recipe for a cooked tomato sambal. The tomato was peeled and then sambalised, with some coconut milk added for the occasion. And, at the last minute, I cooked some Basmati rice.
By the time Maggie was plating up our Sunday lunch, we were too hungry to pause for photos. The ugly duckling look of one of the two plates – yes, two plates – of leftovers doesn’t do justice to the dish but I can assure you that it was thoroughly delicious and all the components worked well together.