Q was once a little quail

Little quail!

Edward Lear


Have a look – they really do have a quiff!

In order to ‘manage your expectations’ I should explain that this recipe for roast quail is only truly ‘quick’ the second time around. It’s a bit fiddly to begin with, but once you get the hang of it, by about quail number six, it doesn’t take long.

I first tried this recipe at the house of some neighbours where the wife had cooked her husband (a classical architect) a wholly Roman meal for a special birthday. Cooking this for numbers must have taken the patience of a saint!

Allow two quail per person. Serve with basmati where you have fried a peeled, chopped banana shallot with the rice right at the beginning of the process.


Recipe for quail with figs


For six

  • 12 boned quail (some butchers can order them in with just the drumstick bones remaining. Do NOT attempt to bone them yourself)
  • 6 figs, each chopped into about eight pieces. My beloved doesn’t like figs, so you can substitute with prunes or dried apricots
  • 150g/6 oz chopped pancetta
  • 24 slices of smoked, streaky bacon
  • 1 tbsp thyme – fresh or dried
  1. Preheat the oven to 210ºC
  2. Fry the pancetta with a little olive oil, taking care not to let it crisp or get too hard
  3. Mix in the fig
  4. Divide into twelve and stuff each quail with the pancetta-fig mix, binding each bird together with the bacon
  5. Brown in the frying pan on all sides
  6. Move to a roasting tin and finish in the oven for about eight minutes, prodding with a sharp knife to check each is cooked through


This post is dedicated with thanks to Erica Simpson

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