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Whole quail is at its best when roasted to perfection with nice, crispy skin. People are often afraid to try quail as it is very lean and can be easily overcooked; the key is to cook it quickly and allow it to rest before devouring.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Remove the wishbone from each quail – this is optional but will make them easier to carve
Place the quails in a roasting tray, rub olive oil all over the skin and season liberally with salt and pepper
Put the tin into the oven for 8–10 minutes, adding a dash of white wine or stock to the tray halfway through cooking
Remove from the oven, cover with tin foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes
Quail is often wrapped in pancetta before roasting, as Bruno Loubet does in his recipe. This not only imparts extra flavour to the bird but protects the breast from drying out while the legs finish cooking. Martin Wishart stuffs butter and herb under the skin before cooking his quails for the same reason.
Roast quail benefits from simple accompaniments – think bread sauce, game chips and some roasted vegetables or serve as a starter with a bowl of aioli.
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