Quail, Bread Sauce and Cherries

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in


By Katrina Meynink

Published 2014

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You will need to begin this recipe one day ahead.


  • 2 quail, deboned, bones reserved
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 garlic clove, bruised
  • oil, for deep-frying
  • red ribbon sorrel and rocket (arugula) flowers, to serve

Pickled Cherries

  • 100 g ( oz) cherries, halved, pitted
  • 200 g (7 oz) cherries, quartered, pitted
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) cider vinegar
  • 75 g ( oz) caster sugar
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 g (1/16 oz) salt

Master Stock

  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) soy sauce 10 star anise
  • 3 oranges, juice
  • 150 ml ( fl oz) black vinegar
  • 40 g ( oz) ginger, peeled, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 3 dried bird’s eye chillies
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) brown chicken stock

Bread Sauce

  • 350 ml (12 fl oz) cream
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) milk
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • oil, for frying
  • 115 g (4 oz/2 cups) fresh sourdough breadcrumbs

Quail Jus

  • 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) brown chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter


To make the pickled cherries, reserve 100 g ( oz) of the quartered cherries, and put the remaining ingredients into a medium saucepan with 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of water. Bring to the boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into a container and refrigerate to chill. Cover the reserved cherries with the cold pickling liquid and allow to macerate overnight. Strain the cherries and reserve the liquid for the quail jus.

Put all of the master stock ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to 70°C (150°F) for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain into a clean saucepan. Return to low heat, add the quail legs and poach at 50–60°C (120–140°F) for 30 minutes. Remove the quail legs from the master stock and chill them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make the bread sauce, put the cream, milk, rosemary and bay leaf in a saucepan over low to medium heat and simmer for approximately 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep for 1 hour before removing the herbs. Put the onion in a frying pan with a dash of oil and caramelise over high heat. Stir the breadcrumbs and onions into the milk and cream. Allow about 15 minutes for the crumbs to absorb some of the liquid, then blend on high in a blender while the mixture is still warm, until silky smooth and shiny. Season with salt, then pour the bread sauce into a small squeeze bottle and keep warm.

Prepare the quail jus by putting the brown chicken stock, reserved quail bones and 2 tablespoons of the reserved cherry pickling liquor in a saucepan and reduce by two-thirds over medium heat. Put the butter in a separate saucepan and emulsify over medium heat. Season with salt and reserved pickling liquid, to taste: you want the taste to be rich, a little sweet and a little tart.

Place the quail breast skin side down in a frying pan and cook over medium heat, pressing down in the centre of the breast to crisp the skin, for 3–5 minutes until just cooked through. Halfway through cooking, add 12 pickled cherry halves and cook to achieve a light pan roast on the edges. Add the butter, thyme and garlic to the pan and baste the raw side of the quail breast. While the breast is cooking, preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 175°C (345°F) or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15–20 seconds. Add the poached quail legs and cook for 1–2 minutes or until golden.

On a tray lined with a cold tea towel (dish towel), place the quail breast skin side up, with the cherries and quail legs.

To serve, take the warm bread sauce and place 3 dots, about the size of a teaspoon on each plate. Add 3 roasted cherry halves, 3 of the pickled halved cherries and 3 of the pickled quartered cherries to each plate. Place a crisp fried leg and a breast on each plate. Drizzle with jus and garnish with red ribbon sorrel and rocket flowers.