Apart from stuffing and roasting, we tend to scratch our heads and wonder what else to do with quails. Matching the meat with the eggs makes an attractive starter or light main course for a dinner party. Watercress is a perfect small salad leaf that deserves a fate better than being thrown on to steaks and grills as a garnish in posh hotels. With other leaves, or on its own, it makes an interesting alternative to the ubiquitous rocket. Add asparagus or any other spring vegetable to this salad if you wish.
12 quails' eggs, cooked and peeled
180g watercress, stalks removed and the leaves washed and dried
20g mâche or baby red chard leaves
A few chives, cut into 4-5cm lengths
for the dressing
1tbsp sherry vinegar
4tbsp walnut oil
1/2tsp caster sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 245°C/475°F/gas mark 9. Rub the quails with butter and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast them for 10 minutes in a roasting tray then leave them to rest on a plate. Meanwhile make the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, walnut oil and sugar together and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pick the leaves down a bit if they are too big, toss them in the dressing and arrange on four plates. Remove the breasts from the quail and cut each one into three. Arrange the quail breasts in among the watercress leaves with the quails' eggs. Add the legs for people to eat with their fingers if you like the idea. Scatter with chives. f
Otherwise, save the legs, with the rest of the bones, and use for a soup or stock. For the former, add onion and carrot and leek and a few sprigs of thyme, cover with chicken stock and simmer for 45 minutes. Garnish with the flaked leg meat, chopped tarragon and spring vegetables. Reuse content