Roast quail with yoghurt and celery

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 8 people

"The whey that drains from yoghurt when you hang it makes a great brine," says Shaun Kelly. "It doesn't need to be very salty - the brine's main purpose is to keep the quail juicy, and the birds are great either roasted or barbecued." You'll need to begin this recipe two days ahead to drain the yoghurt and marinate the quail.

  • 1 kg Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4½ tsp sea salt flakes
  • 8 fresh bay leaves
  • 8 garlic cloves, bruised
  • 2 tsp coarsely ground white pepper
  • 8 quail (200gm each)
  • 2 celery stalks, leaves picked
  • 4 lemons, halved
01   Place yoghurt in a muslin-lined colander over a bowl, cover and refrigerate until whey has drained and yoghurt is thick (24 hours). Reserve whey and yoghurt separately in refrigerator until required.
02   Combine, whey, 1 tbsp olive oil and 3 tsp sea salt flakes, bay leaves, garlic and pepper in a non-reactive container to make a light brine. Add quail, cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
03   Meanwhile, spread celery leaves on an oven tray and dry out in the oven at lowest setting (3 hours to overnight). Process with remaining sea salt flakes in a small food processor or pound using a mortar and pestle until finely ground. Store in an airtight container until required.
04   Preheat oven to 220C. Remove quail from brine, pat dry with absorbent paper and place a bay leaf and a garlic clove from the brine into the cavity of each quail (discard brine). Place in a lightly oiled roasting pan, drizzle with remaining oil and roast until golden, tender and just cooked through (15-20 minutes).
05   Meanwhile, cook lemon halves, cut-side down, in a large frying pan (no oil) over medium-high heat until just starting to burn (2 minutes), then transfer to pan with quail halfway through cooking.
06   Juice celery, strain the juice and stir into the drained yoghurt to thin slightly.
07   Serve roast quail with burnt lemon, a dollop of yoghurt, and celery salt for sprinkling.
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