The first time I was served quail, I remember protesting that it was too cute to eat. Then I ate one. Or three. More flavorful than chicken, juicier than turkey, less gamy than duck... basically pure bliss on two teeny legs. Until now though, I'd considered it winter food, but then yesterday I stumbled across this recipe onKei Keiko Oikawa's gorgeous travel/food blog Nordljus, in which the quail is marinated and grilled.
Kieko uses a ridged pan, but an outdoor grill will work beautifully, so long as you mind it. If you feel like you've been stuck in a grilled chicken rut, or want to surprise your guest the next time you throw a bbq, these should do the trick.
Grilled quail with rose petals Serves 4
4 quails, cut down the middle of the backbone with scissors and flattened outMARINADE
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with salt
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons rosewater
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons rose-petal jam
1 small garlic clove, crushed to a paste with salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
a squeeze of lemon
sea salt and black pepper
Mix all the ingredients of the marinade together and rub all over the quail. Place in a dish and marinate for at least 2 hours or in the fridge overnight.
To make the sauce, mix the rose-petal jam (or quince paste with rose-water), garlic and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and taste for seasoning.
Grill the quail on a hot griddle pan for 5-8 minutes each side until the meat is no longer pink but is still juicy. Serve with watercress dressed with oil and lemon and the sauce on the side. Scatter a few dried or fresh petals over and some roughly chopped pistachios.
[Image via Nordljus]