This is a delicious light dish to start an autumn banquet. It's an easy, quick way to cook quail that leaves you with tasty and succulent flesh. Celeriac is a great autumn vegetable that, once pureed, becomes light and creamy with a lovely subtle earthy flavour. The salsa verde is the final thing to pull it all together, with hints of celery flavour for the puree and a herby zing for the bird.
- 4 whole jumbo quails, at room temperature
- 750 ml mild olive oil
- 375 ml balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 garlic cloves, roughly bashed
- 1 medium onion, roughly sliced
- Â½ bunch thyme
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 cups celeriac, cut into a large dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 300 ml water
- 200 ml milk
- 30 g butter
- river salt and white pepper
Celery salsa verde
- 1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
- Â½ cup celery, finely diced and briefly blanched
- Â½ cup chopped parsley
- Â½ cup chopped chives
- zest of 1 lemon
- 125 ml mild olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 2 hours
To make the pickled quail, lightly season the quail with salt and white pepper.
Place the rest of the ingredients together into a pot just big enough to fit the quails snugly. Bring to the boil, turn down and simmer gently for 5 minutes or so.
Gently drop your quails into the liquid, making sure they are fully submerged, and simmer lightly for 7 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit until it reaches room temperature.
To make the celeriac puree, place the celeriac in a pot with the bay leaf, a little salt and a nice amount of white pepper. Pour over the liquids, making sure the celeriac is covered, weigh down, bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer until the celeriac is nice and soft. This will take about 15-20 minutes.
Strain off the liquid and blitz the celeriac with the butter in a kitchen mixer until smooth. Season and set it aside in a warm spot.
To make the salsa verde, combine all the ingredients together and season to your satisfaction.
Once you have everything ready to go: the quails in the liquid at room temperature, the celeriac warm and the salsa verde saucy, you are ready to serve.
Divide the puree onto 4 plates.
Gently lift the quails onto a board, breast-side up. Cut each one in half down the middle.
Lay out the quail pieces over the puree. Give the poaching liquid a little stir and spoon a little over each quail. Top with salsa verde.
Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.