When people see pigeon, pheasant or snipe on a menu, they tend not to go for it. Quail is still a little unusual, but people are willing to try it. It can be a good option for a dinner party. 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 600g butter
  • 12 slices boudin noir
  • 350g Cevennes onion, finely sliced
  • 20g smoked bacon
  • 160g crème fraîche
  • 1 sprig of thyme and tarragon
  • 4 large red beetroot
  • 2 large golden beetroot
  • 500g coarse sea salt
  • 4 quail
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 30ml vegetable oil
  • 30g butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme

Method:

1 Slice the boudin noir and heat over a medium heat on a frying pan. Set aside. Try to use a good quality boudin noir or a good Irish black pudding works equally as well and is a lot easier to find. 

2 Next, for the onion purée, melt the butter in a medium sized pot, and add the onions, salt, thyme and bacon. Cook over a low heat until soft. Mix in the crème fraîche and cook for a further six minutes, adding the tarragon one minute before taking off the heat.

3 Strain the onions and reserve the liquid. Heat the liquid in a separate pan and reduce by half. Remove the bacon, thyme and tarragon, and purée the onions in a blender on a medium speed. Pour in enough of the liquid to make a smooth purée. Pass through a sieve and set aside until needed.

4 To roast the beetroot, preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3. Place the sea salt in a small roasting tray, to a depth of 2cm. Add the beetroot and roast for 1½ hours, or until tender. Allow to cool in the salt before peeling. Cut into desired shape and size.

5 To prepare the quail, start by removing the wings, wishbone and innards.  Poach the quail at 80ºC in chicken stock, for three minutes. Remove from the pot and season with salt. In a hot pan, add the oil and fry the quail until golden brown all over. Add in the butter, garlic and thyme and baste the quail for one minute. Let the bird rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

6 To serve, heat the onion purée and place a spoonful in the centre of the plate. You can also use a hot spoon to quenelle it on. Warm the beetroot either under a grill or in the pan after you take the quail out and arrange on the plate. Add the boudin noir. Take the quail breasts off, place in the centre of the plate and serve. 

Tip: Blood oranges work really well with this dish, but experiment with fruit flavours. Oranges, grapes and cherries are all great additions, and can cut through the garnish.

Recipe Credit: Peter Clifford, Fennel

Photography credit: Harry Weir, assisted by Brian Clarke