Marinated Quail
Fairly difficult
Fairly expensive

This is a very Moorish recipe which plays on the sweet and sour flavours typical of southern Italian cuisine, heavily influenced by Arabic gastronomy since the Middle Ages. Key ingredients, apart from the quail, are vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, thyme, sultanas, paprika and Greco di Bianco, a passito-style wine from Calabria. Quail is a very versatile bird; it makes for a perfect, lighter roast in spring or the basis of a much richer dish come September. To add a bold kick to the dish, the paprika has been replaced with ’nduja – the soft, spicy Calabrian sausage – which is then used to flavour the marinade.

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Ingredients

8 quail, 160-180g each
50g sultanas
20g ’nduja
A sprig of thyme
50ml extra virgin olive oil
175ml Passito di Pantelleria, marsala or Greco di Bianco wine
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper

For the mashed potatoes
4 large Cyprus potatoes, 800g-1kg

Marinated Quail Directions

  1. 1 Spatchcock the quail and put them in a large non-metallic dish or sealable container that fits all the quail in one layer.
  2. 2 In a bowl, mix all the remaining ingredients and let the ’nduja melt before pouring over the quail. Cover with clingfilm or a lid, place in the fridge and leave to marinate overnight.
  3. 3 The next day, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Wash the potatoes well then cut a cross in the top of each. Put on a tray and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until soft. Set the potatoes aside while you cook the quail – they should stay warm.
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  4. 4 Preheat a grill on its highest setting. Lift the quail out of their marinade (reserve the marinade) and place, bone-side up, under the hot grill for 10 minutes. Turn them over and continue to grill for 15 minutes until golden. Meanwhile, reheat the reserved marinade.
  5. 5 To check the quail are cooked, cut along the breastbone and check there are no bloody juices (or use a thermometer pushed into the fleshy part and check that it reads 75C). Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
  6. 6 Scoop the insides of the potatoes out into a bowl – they should be fluffy like mashed potato. Season with salt and pepper, then divide among warm serving plates.
  7. 7 Pile the quail on to each plate and spoon lots of the hot marinade over the top.

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