Jesse Gerner's recipe for Spanish style quail.
I love cooking quail as it has a fantastic flavour and is very versatile. This is one of my favourite recipes. Picada is a Catalan sauce made in a mortar and pestle. It is great added to roast juices as well as to thicken soups and stews. Traditionally bread is often added to help its thickening qualities.
6 quail, de-feathered and gutted (keep a keen eye out for any shot pellets)
Halve the quail, cutting down each side of the chest plate. Remove the wings at the second joint and leave the leg attached to the breast with the bone in.
1 litre water
100 g salt
50 g sugar
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
5 black peppercorns
1/2 bulb garlic
Bring all ingredients up to the boil and allow to cool.
Pour over quails and brine for 15 minutes, quickly rinse and pat down with paper towel.
Pine nut picada
200 g pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic (finely grated if you don’t have access to a mortar and pestle)
1 handful of parsley, chopped
3 tsp sumac
A good pinch of salt (5 g)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
50 ml water
50 ml vegetable oil
The picada will hold quite well for a few days so if you’re planning on using it while camping, it can easily be prepared beforehand so you won’t need to lug around as many ingredients.
Once the pine nuts are golden brown, which should take about 15 minutes in an oven at 200 degrees, let them cool, then place half of them in the mortar and pestle or food processor and proceed to make a rough paste. Put this aside in a bowl. With the other half of the pine nuts, either lightly pulse in your food processor or chop with a knife to keep very chunky, and add to the other pine nuts.
Add your garlic and salt to the mortar and pestle and pound to a paste, then add the remaining ingredients and mix together. Combine this with the pine nuts and taste for seasoning then put aside.
Grill the quail for 2–3 minutes, skin side down, then turn over for 1 minute. The quail should still be pinkish in the breast. Let it rest on a plate, keeping any of the juice.
Add any of the rested quail juice to the picada and then spoon over your quail and enjoy with a good chardonnay and some damper if you’ve got it.
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Matt Fowles wine match
Quail is delicate and flavoursome and a pinot arrives at the table as the likely option but the Spanish-style picada pushes Matt Fowles towards a different wine choice.
“The flavour is absolutely delicious but there is a brightness to the dish,” Matt said.
“Chardonnay is one of those wines that carries layers — gentle layers of oak, creaminess from the fermentation — and that is a really nice link through to the nutty flavour of the picada.”
A hint of lemon in the dish also helps push the wine match away from pinot, which would have been perfectly appropriate had the quail been presented in a rich sauce.
Are You Game? chardonnay is the clear winner and this issue’s wine match.
“I think the pine nut picada with the game is a classic,” Matt said.
“If you look at all those old game recipes you see a lot of whole fruit and nuts used in the cooking. Fruit cuts the intensity of the meat but the nut flavour with the parsley and the lemon makes it really light and bright.“You are not going to feel like you’ve eaten a stodgy camp meal. After this, you could go for a 7 km run no worries, or in my case, 3 km.”