Redgate Farm quail with carrots and miso

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 people

  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 Jurassic quails (about 300gm each; see note)
  • 50 gm caster sugar
  • 3½ tsp Sherry vinegar
  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  •  
  • Heirloom carrots
  • 100 gm butter
  • 2 tsp red miso paste, dissolved in 2 tsp water
  • 30 Dutch carrots (finger thick), peeled, trimmed and green tops reserved
  • ¼ tsp instant dashi powder, crushed to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle
  •  
  • Carrot and miso sauce
  • 500 gm chicken wings, sectioned
  • 500 gm carrots
  • 1/10 tsp xanthan gum (see note)
  • 1 tsp red miso paste
  • 10 gm butter
  • 1 tsp verjuice
01   Mix brown sugar, 25gm salt and 2 litres water in a container. Set aside to dissolve (1 hour).
02   Break down quail, separating legs (with thighs), crowns and wings. Place crowns and legs in brine and refrigerate for 3 hours (reserve wings). Drain, then steam quail pieces in a steam oven at 58C for 35 minutes, then take out crowns, increase temperature to 75C and cook legs for another 10 minutes. Place quail pieces on racks in a warm spot in the kitchen to dry.
03   Sprinkle caster sugar evenly in a hot frying pan and cook without stirring, but swirling pan, until dark caramel (1½-2 minutes). Remove from heat and add the vinegar. Stir until sugar is fully dissolved, then pour into a bowl and set aside.
04   For heirloom carrots, melt butter and add miso paste and ½ tsp sea salt and combine with a stick blender. Place carrots in a large sous-vide bag and add miso butter. Seal and cook in a 97C water-bath until tender (15-20 minutes). Cool carrots slightly, open the bag and drain. Smoke the carrots in a cold smoker (5-10 minutes; see note). Spread them out on cooling racks, sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake in a ventilated oven or a dehydrator at 85C until starting to shrivel slightly (2-3 hours).
05   For carrot miso sauce, preheat oven to 180C. Roast the chicken wings and reserved quail wings on an oven tray lined with baking paper until golden brown (50-60 minutes). Drain the fat off and transfer the wings to a pressure cooker, cover with 1 litre cold water and cook at 110C (low pressure; 1¾ hours). Let the pressure dissipate naturally and drain the stock. Skim off the fat and reduce the stock in a small saucepan over medium heat to a jus-like consistency, or around 25ml. Pass through a coffee filter to remove any sediment. Peel and juice the carrots, then strain the juice through a fine strainer into a saucepan and heat until the carotene starts to separate. Skim this off with a ladle into a bowl and continue skimming, removing sediment, until no liquid remains (8-10 minutes). Blend skimmings with xanthan gum. Heat chicken jus and add carrot skimmings, miso paste and butter and blend to combine, then season with verjuice and sea salt to taste.
06   Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 210C. Brush caramel on the steamed and slightly dried quail with a pastry brush. Just before serving, deep-fry quail in small batches until golden brown (10-15 seconds), then carve the breasts off the bone. Reduce oil temperature to 180C. Deep-fry carrot tops in small batches until crisp (20-30 seconds; be careful, oil will spit). Drain, dust lightly with instant dashi powder and serve with quail, carrot and miso sauce and heirloom carrots.

Note Jurassic quail are available through Redgate Farm and selected farmers' markets and butchers. You can cold-smoke the quail in a Weber - place smoking chips in a disposable foil tray, heat over a high flame until smoking, then transfer to a Weber with carrots and close the lid. Instant dashi powder is available from Japanese grocers. Xanthan gum is a stabilising agent available from health-food shops.

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