I’m not the sort of person who eats Quail on a regular basis. Although I consider myself a fairly adventurous and curious cook, tiny game birds are not a mid-week staple in our house. But I spotted a recipe for Roasted Paprika Quails with Romesco Sauce and it just really appealed. I was also persuaded by the beautiful photograph of the dish – crisp, plump little quails sat on a bright rustic platter alongside a gorgeous antique pewter bowl of the rich red sauce. Adorable.
The recipe is from Cook in Boots by Ravinder Bhogal. You might remember her – she was awarded the dubious title of the “New Fanny Craddock” by Gordon Ramsey on his F-Word tv show a couple of years ago. Her book references food from different countries and cultures and consequently recipes are diverse and interesting – fusion-y but in a good way. The book is also full of lush photographs, really beautiful food shots, tonnes of vintage props – floral teacups, lace tablecloths – and loads of gorgeous shoe-porn-shots of shiny Louboutins and sparkly Choos.
But although the recipes are appealing, the format is a bit too girlie even for me! The chapters divide food into categories like “Lots of martinis and food to pick at”, “PMT”and “Skinny food for when you feel the pinch of the Chloe Jeans” – it all feels a bit cliched and Girlie Magazine (not THAT kind of Girlie Magazine, more like the Grazia token recipe article).
Anyhoo, the quail. So Waitrose were selling them – 2 in a box – for about £4 which I thought wasn’t bad for a little treat – and one per person is just about enough. Ravinder says that having them with a salad is sufficient but I’m greedier than her so served them on a bed of Red Camargue Rice which made a nice nutty accompaniment. They were tasty little chaps actually with a discernibly different flavour – more like duck than chicken – and although they’re fiddly to eat, provided you don’t mind getting stick into some bone gnawing, they make an interesting alternative to a Sunday Roast Chicken.
Adapted from Ravinder Bhogal’s Roasted Paprika Quails with Romesco Sauce
2 quails (one per person should be enough)
Teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
2 Garlic cloves
Handful of almonds
Handful of breadcrumbs (I used an old ciabatta loaf)
A couple of tomatoes (I used about 8 cherry tomatoes)
Either 2 fresh red peppers roasted and skinned or the same amount of jarred roasted peppers in oil
A glug of red wine vinegar
A glug of olive oil
Rub the quail with oil, thyme leaves and a couple of teaspoons of paprika and leave to marinate for a couple of hours if possible. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees. Pop the quails into the oven for about 25/30 mins. While they are roasting get your rice on (Red Rice takes about 25 minutes to cook) and make the sauce. Pop the almonds, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, breadcrumbs and red wine vinegar into the blender and blitz. Add olive oil to loosen as necessary.
Serve the quails on top of the red rice with a handful of rocket and a little bowl of sauce for dipping.