Grilled quail with crunchy vegetable salad

Grilled quail with crunchy vegetable salad

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About this recipe: Spatchcocked quail are marinated in Madeira, herbs and seasonings before being grilled to perfection. Served on a mound of lightly dressed raw vegetables, including fennel, mushrooms and bean sprouts, the quail make a filling main course salad, with bread or rolls to accompany.

Norma MacMillan

Serves: 4 

  • 8 quail
  • 250g (9 oz) bulb fennel, trimmed and very finely chopped
  • 200g (7 oz) mushrooms, such as shiitake or chestnut, thinly sliced
  • 200g (7 oz) bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • mixed salad leaves
  • Madeira marinade
  • 175ml (6 fl oz) Madeira
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 large sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 4 juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • Vinaigrette
  • 4 tablespoons walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch caster sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • To garnish
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • sprigs of fresh thyme

Prep:4hr30min  ›  Cook:12min  ›  Ready in:4hr42min 

  1. To spatchcock the quail, use poultry shears or a knife to cut up one side of the backbone, then cut out the backbone altogether. Open out each bird, skin side up, on the chopping board and press down firmly with the palm of your hand to flatten. Carefully remove the skin from each bird.
  2. Place all the marinade ingredients in a glass dish or bowl large enough to hold the quail in a single layer. Add the quail and turn them over so they are well coated. Leave them breast side down. Cover and marinate at cool room temperature for 4 hours, or up to 12 hours in the fridge.
  3. To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a small jar and shake until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the grill to high. Lift the quail out of the marinade. Weave 2 parallel skewers through each bird to hold it flat. (If you are using long skewers, thread 2 birds on each pair of skewers.)
  5. Place the birds on the grill rack, 15cm (6 in) from the heat, and grill for 10 to 12 minutes, basting frequently with the remaining marinade and turning once. To test if the quail are cooked, cut a small slit in the meaty part of the thigh – if the juices run clear, the quail are done.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the fennel, mushrooms, bean sprouts and thyme in a mixing bowl. Shake the dressing, then pour over the vegetables and toss until well coated. Divide the mixed salad leaves among 4 plates and top with the dressed vegetables.
  7. Remove the skewers from the quail. Place 2 quail on each bed of vegetables, garnish with spring onions and thyme sprigs, and serve.

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