Sunday, 31 August 2014

Roast Quail with Pomegranate, Honey, Cinnamon & Thyme

This is such an easy dish to prepare and packs a real flavour punch despite the relatively few ingredients that go into its making.
 Quail originally hail from the Middle East but are now farmed in Europe and are becoming increasingly popular and readily available to buy in many of the larger supermarkets and speciality food shops and butchers. Depending on their size and whether they are being served as a starter or main course one or two quail per person is usually sufficient. Here, I was lucky to get my hands on some nice plump little birds, so I served one per person, along with a chickpea and couscous salad generously flavoured with lemon, mint and flat leaf parsley, echoing some of the classic flavours of the Middle East and a passing nod to the quail’s origins.
 
My children love roast chicken and (as I have mentioned before) when served with all the trimmings, it is probably their favourite meal to eat. Personally, I prefer eating game, particularly game birds and have been trying to tempt my three into being a little more adventurous with what they deign to dine on. I do think that there’s something pitiful about the fact that they like chicken nuggets and dippers over experiencing the joys of eating pheasant, wild pigeon, partridge, grouse and other game. I fully appreciate the fact that some game birds taste…well… very GAMEY… and might not appeal to younger palates, but I haven’t given up the fight.
 
Rather than serve them pigeon or something radically different to what they are used to eating, I have recently started introducing them to different types of fowl including guinea fowl and quail. Admittedly, I presented each of these as “small chickens” and only owned up to what they really were after my gang had eaten them and declared them to be delicious. Sometimes we are too squeamish about the food we eat and are put off eating delicious things because we don’t like the sound of them. Being a borderline glutton with an adventurous appetite for all types of food, I have never been afraid to try anything new and I will admit that I would like to pass this on to my children.

I was delighted with the reaction to this dish and thrilled that it has been requested again by my gang. At its simplest, the quail are simply roasted, but the dish has oodles of added flavour by virtue of the garlic, herbs and honey with which the birds were cooked. This is a really simple and flavoursome dish, which I encourage you to try. You will see from the instruction given that this is an incredibly uncomplicated dish to prepare and in my books that is a further plus in its favour.

Ingredients:

4-6 quail, prepared with innards removed and oven-ready
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 lemon, cut into 4-6 wedges
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2tblsp runny honey
1tblsp of white wine vinegar
Seeds of 3 pomegranates
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/Fan Oven 170C/Gas Mark 5.
2. Place the prepared quail in a roasting tin and stuff their cavities with a lemon wedge and some of the garlic and thyme. Once you have stuffed the cavities, gently truss the quail legs together with some string.
3. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds from two of the pomegranates and nestle more of the garlic and thyme around the birds. Drizzle over the honey and add the white wine vinegar. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, basting a couple of times during the cooking with the roasting juices. When ready the birds should have a deep golden colour.
4. Scatter over the seeds of the final pomegranate, just before serving.
 
Serves 4.