Spiced roast little quail

You would not believe how easy this is – dinner for four. It is very easy, looks really impressive, and tastes divine.

6-8 quail depending on the size. I buy mine from Lidl in boxes of 4.

Turn on the oven to 180C.

Use the small bowl of your food processor, or in a pestle and mortar, pound a 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, two whole cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt, ground pepper, two tsp of freshly ground cumin, one tsp ground cinnamon and one tsp of ground turmeric.  Then add 75ml vegetable oil.  put the quail in a deep roasting pan or dish and massage the marinade into the little aliens laying there in the pan.

Your spiced marinade will look like this

Giant couscous is also called Mougrabieh.  Take one 200g pack, empty into a shallow pan with one chopped deseeded chilli and 1tbsp vegetable oil.  Heat gently until it changes colour to a light brown then take off the heat.

Finely chop one red pepper and one green or yellow courgette and one small fresh red chilli -include as many seeds as you dare or reduce them if you dont like it hot.  Chop a small handful of mint and another of flatleaf parsley and fresh coriander.

Put the Mougrabieh into a saucepan and add about a litre of cold water. Bring to the boil and stir vigorously then simmer gently.You want to get to a stage where it is just cooked but not over cooked (no more than 15 minutes)

Meanwhile put the quail into the hot oven turn them after 7 minutes. They should be cooked in 10-12 – no more or they will be stringy. Remember they are little aliens without much fat so they cant take too much heat before they frazzle. Take them out of the oven before preparing the Mougrabieh so they rest a bit.

Now comes the juggling bit.  Drain the Mougabrieh and run cold water through it.  Turn it onto a flat dish, mix in the herbs, chilli, pepper and chopped spring onion tops.  Chop up some preserved lemon and drag this through the couscous, adding lemon juice to taste then drizzle olive oil over the top and lightly sprinkle with sumac powder (this has the hit of sherbert but is lemony and zingy).  Then put the quail on top and drizzle the cooking juices over the top.

Believe me you will love it.  Cupboard to plate in 30 minutes tops – serve with a herb laden salad, garlicky green beans and some sourdough for the juice mop-up operation.

To be honest I always feel a bit sorry for the skinny legged birds when they are ready to serve. Remember dont bother trying to eat the quail with a knife and fork – its definitely a just pick-it-up-and-eat-it and eat dish.  I first found it in Ottolenghi’s iconic Plenty but I’ve changed the seasoning.  Enjoy.

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