Thursday, 29 September 2011

Lemony Quail

The theme for this month's Random Recipe challenge is all about recipes from magazines, cuttings and pull-outs collected over the years. Put all of them in a pile, then select a recipe at random and cook/bake it! Simples!

I don't collect clippings or cuttings from magazines or newspapers, so that's no good. But I do subscribe to one food magazine: Jamie (Oliver) Magazine. However, me cooking from Jamie's magazine, I think that's too predictable. One other magazine I subscribe is the self-proclaimed, "the world's leading men's magazine", GQ. It is my bible for trends in fashion, style, gadgets and entertainments; not that I can afford many of the goods in it. I simply could not justify spending my savings just for a jacket. I'd end up living on the street, with one kidney, next to a dumpster, finding food. But I'll be wearing a very nice jacket which will probably be out of style in a month's time.

You'll be surprised (or, perhaps not) to know that it's not just clothes and scantily clad women and men are featured in the glossy magazine. There are some very good interviews, essays on politics and current affairs, travel, sex and relationship guides, and book, music and film reviews I enjoy reading. But obviously, one of my favourite sections is food. I never cooked anything from the magazine yet, and it's about time. I was quite nervous, in case if I get a complicated recipe by Heston Blumenthal, a regular contributor to the magazine. But thankfully, the random recipe I got is from the latest edition of GQ, lemony quail by Simon Schama. I never cooked quail before, so this is definitely a nice challenge. I am just not prepared yet to cook anything that requires liquid nitrogen as an ingredient.

The lemony quail is actually quite a simple, but certainly an elegant dish. I just love the spices, the fragrant cumin and coriander (I am a freak for coriander). I could find preserved lemons in my local supermarket, but I didn't really want to buy a whole jar when I only need one. So I omitted it and used more fresh lemons as suggested by Mr. Schama.

You could serve the quails with polenta or lentils, but I was in the mood for something light, so I went for a generous scattering of salad leaves, like peppery rocket and tender baby spinach leaves which go really well with lemon and fresh coriander leaves; and a simple dressing of lemon juice, crushed cumin and coriander seeds to echo the flavours of the quail, capers, pinch of sugar, salt, pepper and good olive oil.

Lemony Quail 
Recipe by Simon Schama
To serve four

8 oven-ready quail
zest and juice of 2 lemons (or 4 if not using preserved lemons)
4 medium sized preserved lemons, sliced medium thick (optional)
4 tablespoons olive oil
t tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed coarsely in pestle and mortar
2 tablespoons cumin seeds (as above)
1 small dried red chilli
1 tablespoons coarse rock or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
fistful of fresh coriander leaves, torn
150 ml chicken stock
1 glass of dry white wine

Marinate the quail for one hour in juice and zest of two lemons plus, if you have them, the flesh of two preserved lemons. Add half of the olive oil, all the seeds, chilli, salt and pepper, and half the coriander.

Heat the oven to 220C. Remove the quail from the marinade. Stuff each bird with a slice of the preserved lemon, cut in half; seal cavities with toothpicks.

Heat a ridged grill pan with the reaming olive oil until almost smoking and brown quail on all sides.

Transfer the quail to a plate and deglaze the pan with stock and white wine. Let it reduce for a few minutes.

Return quail to the pan, top with lemon slices, roast for 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with polenta or puy lentils (if you wish).


  1. wow, very sophisticated Michael... and very brave, you really could have ended up with anything. This looks beautiful and I too have never cooked Quail before, so i am intrigued!... thanks, once again, for taking part x

  2. How lovely, Michael. I don't know a person would find quail over here.

  3. I love quail. When I lived in Nebraska there was a restaurant that was known for their quail. If I can find some here in the desert I will so make this dish!! YUM!

  4. Very elegant Michael! Good for you for taking part.

  5. Nice dish from an interesting source. I admire your self-discipline in not collecting endless bits of paper with recipes on them. Wish I was that strong.

  6. I would say that is real intensive lemon flavor on the quails, which I have not eaten in years. For me...they used to have a little "gamey" flavor, but with all that beautiful lemon, spices, and especially the red chilli...bring it on:DD Yumm!

  7. Looks really great! I love quail eggs...but for meat, I think I'd stick to chicken. LOL!!!

  8. That looks scrumptious and simple!

  9. I almost forget how quail tastes...this looks simply droolworthy!

  10. That looks wonderful, Michael. Those flavors are favorites with my group too! I love quail...don't have it much anymore though.

  11. ah, just as dove hunting season opens up here for the fall, a great quail dish... like the lemon tones here... I have not cooked quail using this technique of cooking, the opposite of a slow braise followed with a quick roast as I was taught, will have to give it a go... I like a wine reduction with the lemon as well