When planning today's lunch at the Embassy (last night with the late evening sun still giving off that warm glow you never want to go away) I was thinking light risotto, simply roasted quail, little bit of salad from the garden - you know the scene. But with storm clouds above earlier today, I basically took the below recipe and beefed it up a little.
I removed the legs and breasts of the birds and took the thigh bones out of the legs leaving them as little drumstick lollipops. These I slow roasted with some baby onions, garlic and thyme, finishing off with a splash of good sherry vinegar and a few leaves of spinach from the garden. The breasts were simply seared quickly, 2 minutes max, and left to rest while the risotto was finished with just a heap of roughly chopped parsley for a slightly earthier feeling. The juices in with the legs and the onions made enough sauce to finish the whole thing off nicely.
Either approach makes a substantial first course, before a lighter fish main course maybe, or a good lunch with salad leaves dependant on the weather I guess. The heart of the dish being the risotto, which is finished differently from the standard saffron job, and gives a fresher taste for me.
75ml white wine
500ml chicken stock
50g grated parmesan
For the parsley puree
200g parsley, washed
200ml olive oil
1 little lemon zest
a small clove garlic, crushed
Preheat the oven to 200ºc/gas mark 6
Make the parsley puree by blending the parsley with the olive oil, lemon zest, black pepper and crushed garlic. It should be completely smooth and a dark, rich green colour.
For the risotto, heat the olive oil, and then sweat the shallot before adding the rice. Season. Gently cook this for a few minutes – you don’t want the rice to colour. Add the wine and reduce right down before pouring in a third of the stock.
Re-boil, cover and leave until the rice absorbs all the liquid. Pour in the remaining stock and bring to the boil. Simmer very gently for a further 10 minutes – the whole operation from raw will take around 35 minutes, until the rice grains are just cooked but still a little firm. If the stock dries out, add more water.
Take the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan followed by 2 tblsp parsley puree. The risotto will turn bright green, but this will soften to something more appetizing by contact with the heat for 1-2 minutes. It would turn muddy brown eventually, if left for an hour. You want it to taste fresh and herbal, so quite a strong colour is the aim so that you know the herb is still vibrant.
Season the quails and brush with a little olive oil. Heat a dry frying pan until it is quite hot and then colour the quails on each side. Transfer to a roasting tray and roast until done (for around 20 minutes). Rest the quails before carving into legs and breasts.
Lay each quail over a pile of risotto and pour on cooking juices.