Many years ago I stayed in a hotel in Egypt which had a vast area of freshly cooked food on offer morning, noon at night. One of the dishes which always stuck with me on that holiday was grilled quail. Not sure if I had eaten quail before that point but I really enjoyed the taste of it and vowed to cook it when I got home. It’s taken me a long time but I have now finally cooked it!
I saw a recipe for Paprika rubbed, cold smoked quails with caramelised onions and alioli in Ben Tish’s cook book. As it was a quail dish and cold smoked it had to go on my “to cook” list!
I had a look around the usual places I buy meat from but it was looking difficult to get hold of quail. Turner and George said they could try and get me some but will be stocking it when the website relaunches but most of the other butchers weren’t selling quail.
I did a bit of research and found that most quail sold in the UK are imported and aren’t raised in good conditions: (https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/press-releases/2016/05/think-your-quail-eggs-are-high-end-the-vast-majority-are-factory-farmed-in-atrocious-conditions) – I knew I didn’t want to support that sort of product so I went looking for quality British quail that were well looked after and found Norfolk Quail. The birds here are free to roam, have plenty of space, are fed well and are kept warm and dry.
Through email I ordered a box of 12x jumbo quails and they arrived chilled, fresh and looking/smelling great:
The 12x quails cost £2.65 each (£31.80) but shipping was £12 plus VAT so it was £46.20 total for 12x Quails which still seems good value. Hopefully someone like Turner and George start stocking them so I can add a few to an order and lose the shipping cost in future.
I took 4 of the 12 quails out and put them in the brine for white meat I had made the night before. I left them in the brine for an hour then dried them off and got them ready to cold smoke with oak dust from Smokewood shack.
The recipe calls for 2 hours cold smoking then at least 6 hours rest but preferably overnight. I left mine in the fridge overnight and cold smoked some Iberico chorizo I got from Meat me at Home over Apple dust for a couple of hours. I left it out overnight as it was really cold but I set the cold smoker with enough dust that I guessed would take about 2 hours to burn through.
When it was time to cook I fired up the BBQ with some mixed lumpwood from Oxford Charcoal and once I poured the lit charcoal in I put the peppers in for the chorizo dish. You cook these over direct heat and blacken them before moving them to the indirect heat zone to cook. Later you sweat them in a bowl and peeling off the black outer skin. Takes about 20m to cook them and 15m to sweat them in a bowl covered with clingfilm then you can peel them and roughly chop them.
I made the Alioli and Saffron Alioli the night before. I haven’t made Alioli or Mayo before and it didn’t go too well! I poured the oil in too fast and it was very thin. Google suggested pouring some boiling water in to cook the egg a little and thicken it up which didn’t work so I got a fresh egg yolk and slowly poured the old mixture in whilst whisking. It was a lot better 2nd time around but still not as firm as I wanted it, practice needed!
The caramelised onions were cooked in a pan on the BBQ for about an hour, didn’t take long for the sugar to take and then I kept them on indirect heat stirring frequently.
I rubbed the quail with rapeseed oil then rubbed smoked paprika in:
The 4th one didn’t have much paprika on as it was for my daughter, she’s too young for spicy food yet!
The time came to grill the Quail and I cooked them direct for 3m skin side down then flipped them for 3m before moving to indirect for 2m. I was a bit nervous cooking them direct with oil on in case they flared up but I kept the kettle lid on and everything behaved quite well. When I took the Quails out they looked great!
The chorizo was sliced lengthways then grilled for 2m each side. The other side of the chorizo caught a bit, I left it longer than 2m but it was ok.
The Quail was great, very smoky, nice and juicy with a great taste. I have another 8 in the freezer to cook!
The chorizo was great, very tasty. I would recommend that from Meat me at Home for sure.
I wouldn’t change a lot with this cook, just learn how to make Alioli properly and don’t burn the chorizo! The quail came out great, really easy dish to prepare and cook. The potatoes were potatoes in a bag by Rich Harris, I cooked them for 40m on direct heat and flipped them every 5m, this was the best attempt so far!
The folk at Norfolk Quail have put the recipe up on their site if you want it: http://www.norfolkquail.co.uk/recipe/paprika-rubbed-cold-smoked-quails-with-caramelised-onions-by-kungfubbqben-tish/