Quail stuffed with fruity couscous

Back in November we were given a gift of some game birds, two quail and a partridge or pheasant (I’m not entirely sure!), which promptly went into the freezer.  Last week I finally got round to using the two quail.  Working my way through my pile of old food magazines I came across a Nigel Slater recipe for partridge stuffed with fruity couscous and, not having two of the larger birds, decided to give it a go with my quail.

The first thing I needed to do was prepare my stuffing.   Despite saying couscous in the title, the recipe called for bulgur wheat, but not having any I gave it a go with normal couscous!  I pour 75ml of boiling water over 50g of couscous and left it to be absorbed.  In a small saucepan I then gently sautéed half of a finely chopped onion before adding in half a tablespoon of dried cranberries and raisins, an 1/8 tsp of cinnamon and 1/8th teaspoon of cumin along with plenty of salt and pepper.  After giving the spices a minute or so to warm through I added the couscous and mixed everything together.

The fruity couscous stuffing

With the stuffing made I moved onto preparing my birds.  Although the birds had already been plucked and gutted, I needed to spend some time removing the bases of feathers which were still lodged in the skin.  Since I was planning on stuffing them I also washed the inside of the birds to try and remove any blood that was sat there.

The quail

With all that done my next task was to get the stuffing into the birds, no mean feat!  After much wrestling I managed to get most of the stuffing shared between the two birds.  I then placed them in a baking tin with the remaining fragrant couscous scattered around.  I places bits of streaky bacon over the top of the birds to keep them moist and then poured a bit of wine into the pan to stop the couscous burning before placing everything in the oven (220C).

The quail stuffed and ready to go in the oven

The recipe didn’t suggest an accompaniment for this dish, so I decided on some roast potatoes and some aubergine.  The potatoes were small charlottes cut into inch cube (ish) pieces and roasted in olive oil and salt with their skins on.  Delicious and very easy to do!  I cut the aubergine into a 1cm dice and gently cooked this down with some more cumin, some garlic, sliced onions and a little oil.  After about 20 minutes on a gentle heat the cubes were cooked through and wonderfully soft.

The aubergine accompaniment

After 25 minutes the birds were ready to come out of the oven, the juices ran clear, the bacon was crispy and all the wine was gone.  It was time to serve up and enjoy.

The quail out of the oven

All served up

I’ve not really had much experience with cooking game and I was really pleased with how this turned out.  The bird was still fairly moist and I loved the stuffing, although my partner wasn’t too keen about the fruitiness. The spices married well with the game taste and it was great fun to have a whole bird to yourself.

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2 Responses to “Quail stuffed with fruity couscous”

  1. Jill Colonna Says:

    Looks and sounds delicious, esp with the spices and fruit. What I love about quails is that they are so tasty but there’s not too much on the plate afterwards. Funny, I’m cooking a pigeon tonight with apricots and honey. Will see if hubbie has the same comments on the fruitiness (guess will be the same!)

  2. noblenourishment Says:

    I’ve never tried quail, but I can just imagine how moist and tasty all that bacon would have made it! I love your side dish of aubergines and potatoes too!

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