Jurassic quail toasted spelt, grapes

Jurassic quail toasted spelt, grapes

Finding Fire

Rest assured these birds do not come from the land that time forgot; they are the super-bird of the quail industry and the largest quail bred anywhere in the world. Australia does not possess a strong game culture, with limited availability creating only a small market. Environment and legislation mean that the majority of game is farmed and served relatively fresh, never to reach its fully ripened potential. Nor does Australia have the cornucopia of game birds found in Europe, where there are wild partridges, woodcocks, snipe, grouse and turtle-doves. These birds are so prized that the humble quail is often overlooked. By crossbreeding with native species of brown and stubble quail, Charlie and Carolyn Scott produced a unique bird that is large, succulent and, most importantly, full of flavour. The combination of quail and grapes harks back to Roman times. This recipe incorporates vines to produce embers, as well as leaves, which lend a slight citrus note against the rich quail.


Quantity Ingredient
4 jurassic quail
2 litres Salt brine, 5%, chilled
1 carrot, cut into large dice
1 onion, cut into large dice
2 litres chicken stock
8 grapevine leaves
200g currant grapes on the vine

For the juniper syrup

Quantity Ingredient
500g green grapes
500g red grapes
2 tablespoons crushed juniper berries

For the toasted spelt

Quantity Ingredient
200g spelt
sea salt
50ml fruity, mild extra-virgin olive oil, such as arbequina or koroneika
1 banana shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced


  1. 1. Prepare the juniper syrup. Juice the grapes and then, in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce the liquid to approximately 100 ml (3½ floz) until syrupy. Add the crushed juniper berries, remove from the heat and allow to stand for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. 2. Prepare the quail. For each quail, carefully peel back the skin covering the breasts and, with the point of a sharp knife, remove the wishbone. Gently fold the skin back. Using scissors, remove the wings, then cut down either side of backbone. Retain all bones for the stock, discarding any remaining offal. Clean and dry the bird thoroughly with paper towel. Turn the quail breast side up and push down firmly on the breastbone to flatten and splay the bird. Place the prepared quail in the chilled brine solution. Allow to brine for 2 hours. Drain, rinse and pat the quail dry with paper towel.
  3. 3. Prepare your embers.
  4. 4. Meanwhile, roast the quail bones (wings, wishbone and backbone) in a castiron pan over the embers until golden brown. Transfer to a large saucepan with the carrot, onion and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, skimming off the scum from the surface. Remove and allow to cool slightly, then pass through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pan.
  5. 5. Place the spelt in a medium saucepan, tossing to toast evenly until it starts to brown and become nutty. Season with sea salt. Remove and reserve.
  6. 6. In the same saucepan, add the olive oil and sweat the shallot and garlic until translucent and soft. Return the toasted spelt to the pan and stir to coat the grains in oil. Add two ladles of hot quail stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until almost all of the stock has evaporated. Add more stock, allowing it to evaporate; repeat for approximately 1 hour until the spelt is al dente.
  7. 7. Grill the quail, breast side down, in an enclosed grill rack approximately 15 cm (6 in) above the embers for 8–10 minutes until caramelised. Place two grapevine leaves on top of each bird and turn over. Cook the birds on top of the leaves for a further 5 minutes, brushing with juniper syrup. Transfer to a warm place to rest; the juices should run clear.
  8. 8. Grill the currant grapes in a fine-mesh sieve until they are about to burst.
  9. 9. Immediately serve the quail on top of the grapevine leaves with the spelt and grilled currant grapes.


  • The juniper berries need time to stand, so begin this recipe at least 6 hours ahead of time.
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