We discovered an intensive quail farm on our journey, so Ross and I decided to grab some and see what we could cook. I was inspired by Edward Abbott’s English and Australia Cookery Book, and although I didn’t "baste incessantly" as he implored, I did bard the meat with fat to keep it moist. While I cooked this in a camp fire, it would work just as well in the oven.
- 1 whole Chinese cabbage (wombok), halved and core removed
- 6 garlic cloves
- 6 whole quail
- 12 strips pork back fat or streaky bacon
- 120 g unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
- 50 ml whisky
- 100 ml water
- crusty bread, to serve
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.
If you’re using a fire, light it early and get plenty of coals. Alternatively, preheat oven to 200°C.
Cut the cabbage into rough chunks and place in the bottom of a large, heavy-based camp oven or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Scatter the garlic over the cabbage, then lay the quail on top, breast-side up, and cover each with 2 pieces of back fat to keep them moist while they cook. Scatter with the butter, then pour the whisky and water around the quail. Cover the pan and get ready to cook.
If you’re using a camp oven, spread some coals around evenly so the pan sits flat. Place the pan on the coals and scoop up plenty more to put on the lid; this makes the camp oven into a proper oven as it has heat coming from all directions. When cooking in a campfire, cooking times can vary widely, so let your senses be the judge.
If using an oven, place the covered pan in the oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes or until the quail are cooked through and the cabbage smells sensational. Serve the quail hot, with the cabbage and some bread for mopping up juices.
• It’s kinda nice to use whole quail, but for ease of eating, you can use those that are mostly boned out and they’ll cook a little quicker and be easier to eat without resorting to so much finger licking.
This recipe is from Gourmet Farmer Afloat.