I'm Game if You Are

I'm Game if You Are

Posted on 01/10/2016 in Autumn

 Learning about this month’s local ingredient I have found fascinating, and as I sit and write I am surrounded by cookery books old and new to find out more about these strange little game birds that taste so delicious.

It was through one of those lucky chance meetings and a quick chat that I happily met John and Ellie Savory and learnt about their new farming venture. John’s family have been farming in Great Ryburgh for over 100 years. Traditionally a mixed farm, John introduced organic free range egg production to the family business in 1997. Then last year he and Ellie started what was a natural but diverse addition to their business, quail meat production

Hand rearing all the birds and using all their expertise and knowledge from the poultry production side, they have created an opportunity to provide a local alternative to French quail meat.

Quail are a tiny game bird, smaller than a partridge with a muchmore delicate taste, normally hung for just a day or so. They can be roasted, poached or casseroled and as I have researched quail recipes I have found many dishes from France, Spain and Itay,also quail cooked with Asian and Moroccan influence but quiteinterestingly very few mentions of quail meat in British cookerybooks, which shows it is not an ingredient we are very familiar with. But I think with young farmers such as John and Ellie producing wonderful fresh stock this is about to change.

Most of recipes I have found include fruit, from quince to plums,there are lots of dishes with grapes; but more often than not thesuggested way of serving quail would give you light and gentle flavours which won’t over power the main ingredient.Mediterranean chefs serve quail with risottos and ratatouille, therepertoire can be endless.

I did find one recipe which suggests cooking 4 quail wrapped in tinfoil on the exhaust of a Harley Davidison. It would take approximately 130 miles to cook them perfectly, and you would have the benefit of wonderful aromas as the juices drips on the hot exhaust!! But I think I prefer cooking them in my kitchen!

Warm Roasted Quail Salad with Quail’s Egg Scotch Pancakes and Nectarines.

Quail birds are so dainty that as well as gentle flavours you needto serve them with other produce sympathetic in size; so what better than quail’s eggs. When creating this dish I happen to have some nectarines in the fridge and they worked beautifully, but so would other fruit of your choice.

I have used a rocket based salad to give a lovely peppery note

You can deep fry or oven bake your scotch eggs, if your oven bake them the yolks will be well cooked, but will of course have a lower fat content. You could equally serve plain soft boiled quailseggs if you prefer, they would work as well and without so much preparation too!

Serves 4

4 roasted quail

8 quail scotch eggs

140 g rocket based salad

2 ripe nectarines finely sliced

Extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil to dress the salad

Freshly ground pepper and salt.

The Quail

Roast as Ellie recommends but without the stuffing seasoning each bird well. Having them cooked and resting before you serve the salad 

The Scotch Eggs 

To cook the quails eggs

Cover the eggs in cold water and bring them slowly to the boil, once the water is boiling simmer for a minute. Drain then roll them on a hard surface to shatter the shells, plunge them into cold water and then shell them.

This recipe will make 12 mini scotch eggs. More than you need but they are so delicious I promise they will be eaten!! I have used basil but you could use other herbs.

450g Sausage meat

soft boiled quail’s eggs

1 small onion or 2 shallots very finely diced

1 tbs finely chopped basil

120g parmesan finely grated

Stale bread crumbs

Seasoned flour

1 egg beaten

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sunflower oil if you are cooking them in oil

Mix the sausage meat with the basil, onion and grated parmesan and season well. At this point I place the meat mix in between two large pieces of cling film and roll it out into a sheet, thenplace it in the fridge to chill, to make it easier the handle.

Once the sausage meat is chilled remove the top sheet of film and cut squares which are big enough to wrap around each quails egg.

 First dust the eggs in flour, and then carefully gather up the sausage meat to completely cover the egg, seal the joins and gently pat into shape. Next roll them in beaten egg then thoroughly coat them in bread crumbs.

 To cook either deep fry in hot oil for 4 to 5 minutes, or bake in a preheated oven 200*C/Gas 6 mark on a non stick surface for 8 to 10 minutes. Turning several times so they brown evenly.

To Assemble

With a sharp knife remove the breasts and legs from each quail. Toss the leaves in the rape or olive oil and season. Then build the salad on four plates.