“On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me four colly birds…” For as long as I can remember I have always sang “four calling birds” so when creating this dish I had a long winded discussion with Kate as I could have sworn that what I have sang all my life were the correct lyrics! Turns out I was wrong (this rarely happens) and Kate was right (this also rarely happens).. But what is a Colly bird anyway? I decided that although they are not the original lyrics I am going with “four calling birds” and with that in mind I have chosen to do a quail dish. This dish is inspired by my time on MasterChef and learning all about the many cuisines everyone specialised in especially Middle Eastern. This is a great summer dish and is perfect for during the week when your short on time and want to have dinner on the table in 30 minutes or when your after a no fuss BBQ dish that is super impressive yet quick and easy to cook and is great with a lightly pickled carrot salad.
1) Start by making the couscous salad. Remove the skin from the preserved lemon by cutting it into quarters, then removing the flesh and discarding it only keeping the skin, slicing it as thinly as possible. Place the chickpeas and stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. In a bowl add couscous, raisins, apricots, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper then pour over the stock, chickpeas and melted butter. Stir the couscous then cover with cling film and set aside for 10 minutes.
2) Mean while split the quails down the spine. With the cut side facing down flatten the quail by pressing down with the palm of your hand until you hear the breast bone snap. Repeat with the remaining quails.
3) Turn on your BBQ to a medium heat, as it will take a little while to heat up. Next place all your quails in a bowl and add the oil and za’atar mix, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Rub the mix all over the quails making sure they are well coated.
4) Place your quails onto your BBQ and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and place in a tray, squeeze lemon juice over them then set aside covered with foil to rest for another 5 minutes.
5) Remove the cling film from the couscous and fluff it by running a folk through it, then add the pine nuts and fresh coriander.
6) To serve place the couscous salad on a brightly coloured plate and the quail on top.
Remember the secret to the perfect dish is to cook with love (and a little va va voom) xx