Recipe by Michele Round, Pinot Shop Australia
A perfect pairing for the 2016 Derwent Estate Pinot Noir
If you buy quail already butter-flied, with the rib cage boned out there's little effort required to present a spectacular platter. These little birds cook in about ten minutes, whether in a fry pan, or on flat-plated barbecue. The flavour of quail is so delicious that you don’t need to gild the lily - there are simple Italian flavours here with tasty results.
Marinate the birds for at least a couple of hours in the fridge if you have the time and then bring them back to room temperature before frying, otherwise the little legs (bone still in) won’t cook through properly. When you take the quail from the marinade, flip the thighs towards the centre so that the ‘knees’ are together. This makes for even cooking, and a decorous presentation.
Quail Italian-style with thyme and crispy sage leaves
6 boned, butterflied quail
handful fresh thyme
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
juice 1 lemon
Place the quail in a large bowl. Strip the leaves from the thyme and add to the quail. Don’t worry about being too neat about this; little bits of stem and flower tops are fine. Sprinkle over a teaspoon of salt and grind over plenty of black pepper. Mash the garlic with 1 tsp salt so that you have a paste. Add to the quail. Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix everything well together and ensure that each quail gets its quota of marinade. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
fresh sage leaves
salted butter (French Lescure is good)
Heat the olive oil and butter in a non stick fry pan. When foaming, add the sage leaves. Cook for a minute or two, turning once until they are dark green and beginning to crisp. Remove to paper towel to drain. Add the marinated quail to the pan, skin side down first, and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning once after the skin side is golden. Turn heat down and complete cooking. Rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
To serve: Scatter with extra sprigs of thyme and the crispy sage leaves.