"You have to start this well before you want to eat."
This simple sentence has scared me out of making this recipe. When I made the lacquered quail, I saved a couple, and froze them in anticipation of making the flattened, marinated quail sometime in the not-too-distant future. That was 8 months and 15 days ago. I like quail, and I like all the flavourings in this recipe, but each time I'd flick the book open, I'd see that little sentence, and I'd suddenly be filled with a great sense of apathy. Then I'd move on to a different recipe. Until today.
Last night I finally got around to defrosting the little quails, and I marinated them today. In this recipe, they are flattened out (after cutting out the backbone with a pair of scissors), and rubbed in an oil-rosemary-garlic-bayleaf mixture. At this point, they're supposed to sit for at least 6 hours. But I have to admit, the shadow of apathy was still hanging overhead, and I only got around to marinating them in the late afternoon. They had an hour marinading at room temperature. But they turned out fine nonetheless.
Then you fry them in a cast-iron pan until brown and cooked through. The accompanying sauce is made by deglazing the pan with red wine and meat stock.
Following Nigella's comment that "This is picnic food", to be eaten with the fingers, I served it with salad, and some fab pumpkin and onion sourdough that my dad bought this morning.
Delightful. I love quail. The flavourful crisp skin and the juicily tender flesh beneath is just wonderful. And they're so quick to cook and eat that you forget all about that effortful far-in-advance preparation. Almost.