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Quail - Pot-Roast Tuscan

Although nearly all the quail you're likely to find in this country will be farm-reared, they are still, strictly-speaking, classified as game. This recipe is also suitable for other small game birds, such as snipe and woodcock.

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For 4 people as a main course:

- 8 quail - buy the largest you can find
- 8 fresh Sage leaves
- 8 thin slices of Pancetta or streaky bacon (the latter beaten out thinly between sheets of cling film
- 30g/1 oz Butter
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) Olive Oil
- 2 medium Onions, peeled and cut into small dice
- 2 medium Carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
- 4 Celery stalks, (de-stringed if old) then cut into small dice
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper
- 300ml/½ pint Dark Chicken Stock
- 300ml/½ pint Dry White Wine
- 30g/1 oz of soft Butter mixed with a rounded teaspoon of flour to form a beurre manié
- A big pinch of Dried Thyme or a few sprigs of fresh
- 4 thick slices of crusty Sourdough Bread
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) Good Olive Oil
- 1 clove of Garlic, peeled


- Put a sage leaf inside each bird, then wrap each with a slice of pancetta or flattened bacon - secure this with a toothpick.

- Heat half the olive oil and butter in a heavy-based casserole and sear the bacon-wrapped birds on both breast sides until lightly browned.

- Remove the quail, and set aside.

- Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until they're soft - this will take about 10 minutes.

- Add the bay leaf, salt, pepper and place the quail on top of the vegetables.

- Add the wine and chicken stock and bring this to the boil.

- Cover the casserole, then reduce the heat to maintain the slowest of simmers. Cook for 20 minutes.

- To serve - Remove the birds from the liquid and keep them warm.

- Bring the liquid to the boil and whisk in the beurre manié and thyme - the sauce should thicken a little,cook for a further 2 minutes to rid the flour of any raw taste.

- Toast the bread on both sides, and crush the garlic clove into the olive oil.

- Brush the toast with the garlicky oil while it"s still warm and place it in the centre of each plate.

- Top each with two quail and a ladle of vegetables and juices.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

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