For spatchcocked roasted quail
Unfortunately, you won’t be seeing photos of quail on this blog as I can’t buy them here. Okay, perhaps if I trotted off to a soul destroying shopping centre, where there are monstrous superstores, I might find them for a special occasion. There are none of those on the horizon in my social calender. Still doesn’t stop me from developing a recipe to go with. And, I’m pleased to say (could almost brag about it) this is the best Puy lentil dish I’ve ever cooked. It’s incredibly delicate and fragrantly flavourful all at the same time. I even ate some of the carrot, this was that good. The carrot and celery stalk should be chopped into small dice. Well, yours truly wasn’t in the mood this morning to bother. Besides, even their flavour and texture would interfere with the subtlety. So, too, would be using too much of the cooking liquor from the Puy lentils, which are small marbled green lentils for those who might not know what Puy stands for. Here I buy them as green lentils as mine aren’t grown within the le Puy region in France. Doesn’t matter, it’s still the same product. Most people cook the lentils in the broth. Hmm, I can’t do that as their cooking liquor is too earthy and a tad pungent for this dish. So, instead I grabbed large serving spoonfuls of the cooked lentils, drained them of most of their liquor and added those. That way I can achieve the flavour more accurately. This is easy to cook. However, the stock itself needs up to two hours to fully render all of those flavours. Perfect, then, to prepare the night before, skim off any fat the following day and continue with cooking this delicious stew – even if I say so myself!
Serves 2 – 3
- 1 x onion, peeled and cut into quarters
- 1 x carrot, peeled, trimmed and cut into quarters
- 1 x celery stalk, washed, trimmed and cut into quarters
- 3 – 4 x garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
- 2 x dried bay leaves, split
- 15 x juniper berries
- 3 x sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 x organic very low salt vegetable stock cube
- 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water
- 500g (17.63 oz)x chicken quarters, thigh and leg, any excess fat trimmed off and discarded
- pinch x cayenne pepper
- 100g (3.52 oz) x Puy lentils (small marbled green), rinsed and cooked separately to pack’s instructions. Cooking liquor to be kept
- olive oil
- 1 x onion, peeled, trimmed and cut into small dice
- 1 x carrot, peeled and quartered
- 1 x celery stalk, washed, trimmed and quartered
- 400g (14.11 oz) x potatoes (weight after peeling them), sliced into thick discs
- 5 x juniper berries
- 3 – 4 x garlic cloves, peeled, trimmed and crushed/minced
- chicken meat, shredded
- sea salt
- fresh parsley, to serve
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Add the first 11 numbered ingredients to a large heavy-based saucepan with lid and put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 45 minutes. Reduce heat to No 1 and simmer for a further 30 – 45 minutes. Take off heat, store overnight, remove all coagulated fat on the surface and put on heat No 2. When warm remove the chicken quarters and set aside. Retain the bay leaves, and garlic if you want to, for the next stage of cooking.
- Meanwhile, pan-fry the onions in a small saucepan with a little oil on heat No 2 with a lid for the first 10 minutes or so, keeping an eye on them and stirring through occasionally as they can scorch. Continue to cook until nicely caramelised, adding a splash of water to keep them from drying out. When golden take off heat and set aside.
- Cook the lentils in plenty of cold water to the pack’s instructions. Mine only take about 30 minutes to cook. Take off heat and retain their liquor.
- Strain the broth through a metal colander into a suitable bowl. Mash the vegetables with a soup ladle or serving spoon, within the colander, to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of them before discarding them. Strain broth through a fine wire metal sieve into a large heavy-based saucepan with lid, discarding what’s left in the sieve. Add the caramelised onions, bay leaves, cooked garlic, carrot, celery, potatoes and extra juniper berries and put on heat No 4. Bring to near boiling point, reduce heat to No 2 and continue to simmer until potatoes are nearly cooked. Spoon out the juniper berries before adding the lentils as they’re almost impossible to see otherwise. Crush the garlic into the stew and stir thoroughly. Grab large serving spoonfuls of the cooked lentils, draining most of their cooking liquor and add to the stew. Taste at this point for any needed sea salt. I far prefer to allow people to salt theirs to personal preference.
- In the meantime shred the chicken meat discarding all bones, fat and sinew. Add to the stew and heat thoroughly before serving.
- Serve with freshly snipped parsley, sea salt and black pepper.
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