Known for their small size and delicate flavour, quails can work perfectly as a starter shared between two or three, however, we would recommend cooking one per person if used as a main course.
Quails are available all year round however it’s important to make sure you’re picking only the best quails if you’re going for shop bought birds. When buying quails, you want to avoid any look dry or have an ‘off’ smell. Ideally, quails with unblemished and fresh-looking skin are what you should be looking for.
If you’re hunting your own quail, make sure you’ve got the right cartridge bag for the job. Hunting quail is a tricky game and having the right ammunition and equipment can be the difference between a successful hunt and an unsuccessful one.
Our one-tray roast quail recipe serves four but can be scaled up or down to suit any meal, make sure to follow the recipe for the perfect results.
4 medium-sized oven-ready quails, about 600g (1lb 5oz) each
8 carrots, peeled and halved lengthways
350g (12oz) new potatoes, halved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 unwaxed lemon
100g (3½oz) runny honey
1 x 330ml bottle of light-coloured beer
20g (¾oz) fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 pork sausages, about 280g (10oz)
1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard
100ml (3½fl oz) single cream
Season the quails with salt and pepper. Zest the lemon and massage into the skin of the quail. Juice the lemon and keep the skins for later. Combine the honey, lemon juice together with the beer and leave to settle. Finally, preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7.
Remove the pips from the lemon skins and chop finely along with the parsley. Take the sausages from their skins and combine the meat with the lemon skins, parsley and mix in some salt and pepper.
Take the mix and stuff the quail cavities making sure that it is pushed in to fit the space. Truss the quail using four long pieces of string, making sure it has enclosed the filled the cavity.
Take the roasting tin and arrange the quail, breast side down, alongside the carrots and potatoes. Pour off the lemon, honey and beer marinade to cover all ingredients. These should be roasted for one hour, after which remove the foil and rotate the quail, so they are breast side up.
For a further 25 minutes, roast the quail uncovered, or until the juices run clear when checked with a sharp knife. The quail should look golden brown.
Pour the marinade from the tin into a large frying pan whilst covering the drained roasting tin with foil. Slowly bring the marinade to the boil in the pan and then continue cooking for 7-8 minutes, you want the juices to have reduced by half.
Finally, combine the mustard and cream with the sauce reduction and add seasoning to taste. Pour this sauce over the contents of the roasting tin and serve straight away.
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Image source: Rachel Khoo