Coronation Quails & Eggs

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 1 hour + 2 hours cooling in the fridge Serves: 6 - 8

Difficulty: 3/5

I think that it must be time for a bit of a coronation chicken revival. Constance Spry is credited with inventing the dish for the Coronation of the Queen back in 1953, and when the dish is made with a little tender loving care, it can make a delicious cold main course that is a million miles away from some of the ghastly versions that you might remember from buffet dinners during the Sixties and Seventies. Back then, coronation chicken tended to be made from pre-cooked chicken doused with a dubious sauce made from mayonnaise and curry powder. Here I have put quails and their eggs to the coronation chicken test, it makes rather a good sophisticated little starter salad if you are entertaining your friends on a posh picnic at maybe the races, fishing or shooting. A few crisp salad leaves and you have a great starter or snack

Recipe by Mark Hix

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 free range quails
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small, mild red chilli, chopped
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 20g root ginger, scraped and grated
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • A small piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • The black seeds from 3 cardamom pods
  • tsp fenugreek seeds
  • tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1tbsp vegetable or corn oil
  • 3-4tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
  • 1tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1tbsp mango chutney, chopped if very chunky
  • 12 Clarence Court free-to-fly quails eggs, boiled for 2-3 minutes, cooled in cold water and shelled.

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METHOD

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and gently cook the onion, garlic, chilli and all the spices for 3-4 minutes with a lid on without colouring the onions. Add the stock and the quails, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes then remove the quails and put to one side and continue simmering the stock on a medium heat until it reduces to 3-4 tablespoons then blend in a liquidiser; leave to cool.

Mix with the mayonnaise, yoghurt, coriander and chutney and season. Remove the legs from quails then remove the breasts from the bone. You can either leave the leg meat on the bone or remove it. Mix the breasts and legs or meat and quails eggs with the sauce and leave for a couple of hours in the fridge.

Serve on some crisp salad leaves.