Quails with Burnt Miso Butterscotch and Pomegranate and Walnut Salsa
Serves 8 as a starter, 4 as a main
Credit: Jonathan Lovekin
150g white miso paste, at room temperature
30g light brown sugar
2 tsp sherry vinegar
40g unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tbsp sunflower oil
8 whole quails, de-boned with wing tips left on or de-boned chicken thighs (1.1kg)
coarse sea salt and black pepper
150g pomegranate seeds (seeds of one medium pomegranate)
70g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
35g pickled walnuts, rinsed, skin removed, finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp Valdespino sherry vinegar (or other good quality sherry vinegar)
1 tbsp olive oil
20g parsley, finely chopped
1 Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas mark 3
2 Use a rubber spatula to spread the miso paste out thinly and evenly on a parchment-lined baked tray. Place the tray in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes until the miso has turned to dark caramel: the sides should look burnt and the middle a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool Scrape the burnt miso paste off the parchment paper, breaking it as you go, and transfer the pieces to a food processor, along with the mirin, sugar, vinegar, butter and 1 tablespoon of water. Blitz well for 5 minutes to form a smooth aerated paste.
3 Place all the ingredients for the salsa, apart from the parsley, in a medium bowl with 1/4 teaspsoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of water. Mix well and set aside until ready to use, stirring in the parsley just before serving.
4 When you are ready to serve, set the oven to its highest grill setting.
5 Place a large sauté pan on a high heat and add the oil. Season the quails with 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper and, once the pan is hot, add them skin side down in batches. Fry for 5 minutes turning once, so that both sides get some colour. Transfer the quails to a parchment-lined baking tray and spread 1 tablespoon of miso butterscotch evenly over the skin of each bird. Place the tray under the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the miso starts to bubble and caramelise. Serve at once, along with the salsa spooned on top or alongside.
Credit: Caroline Jowett
How did I find this? Surprisingly easy though you'd never guess it from the results. I used chicken thighs, as I eat them a lot and am always looking for new ways to make them interesting. The miso butterscotch was delicious and I'd definitely make it again, though I think I would trying baking them instead of frying. I probably wouldn't bother with the salsa for everyday as the dish would work just as well without. It is, however, pretty good with cheddar.