Monday, 3 November 2008

Quail

"Oh, what's this?" he says, delving into the often unusual selection of over ripe and tired-looking produce that make up the 'Reductions' section of the supermarket aisles. It was a pair of cute little quails for a laughable price with the condition that they needed to be eaten that day. Having not cooked quail before (I wasn't aware it could be bought from your average Tesco or Sainsbury's), I didn't do anything ambitious. I roasted them on a bed of onions and rosemary trying to baste them as often as possible. I served them up like I would a traditional chicken roast, making gravy from the juice-soaked onions and plating our find with roasted potatoes and vegetables. The meat itself was predictably rich, dense and gamey. After we'd enjoyed our feast, I boiled down the carcases and produced the most extraordinary stock; it was rich, dark and rather creamy but without the layer of fat you get from chicken stock. It looked so tasty, I simply boiled some brocolli in the broth and had it like that!

For any other first time quail-cookers, they don't take long to cook at all due to their size but they have very little fat on them so they need to be basted often. Another option is to put a few rashers of bacon on each quail to roast, which will add more fat and moisture to the meat. The bacon can then either be left on the quail when served or peeled off, chopped and added to the gravy but remember to lay off the salt if this is the case! You can also use the metalic wrapper from a block of butter gently wrapped around the meat while it roasts to infuse it with butteryness. They generally only need twenty to twenty-five minutes in a hot oven (220C/Gas Mark 7).

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