Golden spiced quail Kiev


  • Serves 4 people

This comes with a warning: don't wear your best dress or dickie bow tie, and let the quail cool a little because when you bite into them they have a tendency to shoot the butter filling out all over the place - fun this may seem if you see it happen, but not fun when it gets you in the eye, or when your nicest neighbour ever turns on his or her heels and leaves, then presents you with the dry-cleaning bill the next day. Believe me, this happens. One more thing: this recipe really is yum - it's great for kids, but how can any adult not trespass onto their childish side?

  • 4 jumbo quail (240gm each)
  • 400 ml buttermilk
  • For deep-frying: oil
  • To serve: lemon wedges
  • Garlic butter
  • 125 gm unsalted butter, softened
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Crumb mixture
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1½ tbsp white peppercorns
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 150 gm (1 cup) plain flour (or rice flour if you’re gluten-free)
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Coleslaw
  • 175 gm red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 225 gm Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • ½ small carrot, cut into julienne
  • ¼ large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 150 gm (½ cup) mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp truffle oil
01   For garlic butter, combine ingredients in a bowl, season with 2 tsp salt and whip until all fully incorporated. Place in a piping bag with a nozzle the size of a pea and keep at room temperature until ready to use.
02   Bone the quail and cut into breasts and legs, or if you and your butcher are close I’m sure he’ll do it for you.
03   For the breasts, French the wing bone and make a small insertion in the meat next to the wing using a vegetable knife, going as deep as you can – the more room, the more butter. Pipe garlic butter into this hole, then place quail on a tray and refrigerate until the butter is set hard (30 minutes).
04   For the leg, bone the thigh, leaving the leg bone intact and French the leg bone. Pipe some butter onto the thigh, roll the meat over to enclose, then refrigerate until butter is hard as with the breasts.
05   For the crumb mixture, gently toast the whole spices in a frying pan over low heat until fragrant (4 minutes). Finely grind with a mortar and pestle, then transfer to a large bowl and mix in the flour, ground spices and salt.
06   Place buttermilk in another bowl. Dip each quail piece into the buttermilk, then into the spice mix, repeating this process to coat well. Place on a tray and back to the fridge it all goes for a little while.
07   For coleslaw, place both types of cabbage in a bowl, lightly salt them, and set aside for 5 minutes. Rinse the cabbage, then dry on a paper towel. Place in a bowl, add all other ingredients, mix well and set aside.
08   Preheat oven to 185C. Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 170C. Deep-fry the quail in batches until the crumb is nice and golden (2 minutes; see note). Transfer to an oven tray lined with baking paper, then roast until cooked through (5 minutes). Rest quail for 2 minutes, then serve on a plate with coleslaw and lemon wedges alongside.
Note If you don't have a deep-fryer, pour 150ml of vegetable oil into a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil on medium heat to 170C, then add the quail and fry until golden. Transfer to the oven and roast for 8 minutes.
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