Quail Recipes From Caversham Croft

Caversham Croft
These are from Phillipa at Caversham Croft.
Quails on the braai:

  1. “Spatchcock” the quails by cutting down the breastbone with a pair of scissors and flatten the bird.
  2. Brush with olive oil (we only use Rio Largo) and season to taste – herbs that are good are rosemary, thyme or sage.  Remember, quail is game meat and can handle a strong flavour.  You can also squeeze some lemon juice over this.
  3. Crush a bit of Maldon salt over the bird.
  4. Braai over a fire that isn’t too hot – you don’t want to blacken the skin.

Quail pies:

  1. Shortcrust pastry prepared beforehand and pressed into greased muffin tin.  Let it rest in fridge before cooking.
  2. The quails are simmered in a broth with white wine, onion, carrots, celery and all those good things.  Maybe a bit of potato.  Save the excess stock – it is delicious!!
  3. Take the meat off the bone and chop it together with some sautéed mushrooms in butter.  Pick out some carrots from the mix too and chop them up.
  4. Strain a bit of stock, enough to make a sauce for the meat, and mix the meat in.  Thicken with some cornflour.  Season!
  5. Filling into pastry and cover with a pastry lid.
  6. Bake at 180C until pastry is browned and comes away from the edges of the muffin tin.

Roast quail:

  1. Stuff birds with any of the following: onion chunks, whole garlic cloves, lemon wedges or pork sausages and a bit of bread.
  2. Optional to wrap the birds in bacon.  Wrapping the bird in bacon keeps in the moisture if the bird doesn’t have the skin on.  Our birds have a lot of fat and we keep the skin on so this isn’t necessary.  It does add a lovely flavour to the dish though.
  3. In a roasting pan, place whole birds near to each other but not touching.
  4. Cover with foil and roast at 180C for 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. Remember, you can eat quail rare!  It’s not like chicken that has to be cooked through.

Here is a more complex recipe from a very good chef friend of mine, James Mills.  Marsala is a sweet dessert wine that can be replaced with sherry or port.  If I replaced it with port, I’d add a few cherries to the mix:
8 (about 150g each) quail
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1.2kg parsnips, peeled, topped
2 tbs olive oil
1 small brown onion, halved, finely chopped
1 celery stick, trimmed, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled, finely chopped
70g (1 cup) fresh breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
1 lemon, rind finely shredded
2 250g pkts rindless streaky bacon
185ml (3/4 cup) marsala
Salad leaves, to serve

  • Briefly rinse each quail cavity under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towel (inside and out). Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cut each parsnip in half lengthways, then each half, lengthways, into 3 equal pieces. Place pieces, in a single layer, in a large roasting pan and drizzle with 1 tbs of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil. Add onions and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the celery and carrot, and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes.
  • Combine the breadcrumbs and onion mixture in a large bowl. Add the rosemary and lemon rind. Season with salt and pepper, and stir until well combined. Fill each quail cavity with some of the seasoning mixture. Wrap a bacon rasher around the middle of each quail and secure with a toothpick. Place the quail on the parsnip in the roasting pan. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the quail juices run clear when pierced with a skewer in the thickest part of the breast.
  • Transfer quail to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Place the roasting pan over high heat. Add the marsala, scraping the pan with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon, until it comes to the boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug.
  • Place quail with parsnip on serving plates. Pour over a little of the sauce and serve immediately with salad leaves.


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