Marinated Spatchcock Quails on a Bed of Jewelled Rice

  • 4 jumbo quails spatchcocked
  • 4-6 tablespoons sunflower/vegetable oil, plus butter for layering the rice
  • For the rice:
  • 400g basmati rice, parboiled
  • 4 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 2.5cm grated ginger
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 130g sugar
  • 2 large carrots, cut into juliennes
  • Peel of 3 oranges, cut into thin slivers and the juice of 2 set aside
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 240ml chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons dried cherries
  • 4 tablespoons golden sultanas, soaked in marsala wine
  • For the rice
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower/rapeseed oil
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 120ml cream
  • For the marinade:
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground star anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • Salt to season
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl with the quails and leave to marinate for a few hours or preferably overnight. When you are ready to cook the birds bring out from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.

Pre heat the oven 190°C. Heat an ovenproof pan until hot. Sear the quails all over, this will take 2-3 minutes, then place into the oven and roast for 4-6 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so.

In the meantime, pour the remainder of the marinade into a saucepan along with the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and reduce then pour in the cream. For the rice, wash the rice in hot water twice rinsing immediately, then rinse a few times in cold water cold water to remove as much starch as possible. Allow the rice to soak in water for 20-30 minutes. Drain. Using a separate large saucepan, bring 1.5 litres of water to the boil. Once the water reaches a rolling boil add the drained rice. Pour along with some salt and a drizzle of ghee/oil to keep the grain separate.

Boil briskly for 2 minutes, as you only want the rice to par cook, then strain the rice through a colander. Immediately run cold water over the rice to stop the cooking process, leave to stand.

Put the slivered orange peel into a saucepan and cover with water, Bring to the boil and drain. Once you have drained the orange peel, use the same saucepan and put the blanched orange peel back into the pan along with the carrots, ginger, sugar and 240ml water.

Bring to the boil and continue to do so for approximately 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside. You will need to keep a third for garnishing whilst the rest will be used for layering the rice. Mix together the cinnamon and allspice and set aside. Fry the onions with either oil/ghee over a medium high heat and add the garlic.

Fry until the onions turn golden brown. Now add the dried cherries, and the raisins and pine nuts. Cook for a minute. Remove and set aside (reserving a third for garnishing, the rest for layering).

Using the same pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and cover the base with a layer of the cooked rice. Sprinkle over a small pinch of the cinnamon and allspice mixture over the rice. Now place 2 spatulas of rice on top of the seasoned rice with some of the carrot and orange mixture, ½ teaspoon of the spice mix, and some of the fried onion mixture.

Repeat the layering process until you have used up all the rice, the spice mix, carrot/orange mixture and the onion mixture.

Mix together the orange juice with the chicken stock and orange blossom water and pour over the rice.

Cover the mouth of the pan with a clean kitchen cloth and close firmly with a fitted lid. Place on the hob and bring to a high heat for 5-6 minutes to allow the steam to build up in the pot.

Reduce the heat to very low and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and serve the rice on a large platter.

Garnish with coriander/parsley, the remainder of the carrot and orange mixture, and the fried onion mixture.

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