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Speedy Spatchcocked Quails

March 1, 2015

Recipe by Anjum Anand

This is ridiculously easy. It takes minutes to make and cook (although, for the best results, leave to marinate for one hour). This will soon become your favourite quick meal and all it needs is salad or some rice and vegetables. Spatchcocking is very easy and essential in the repertoire of a time-saving cook, as the birds will be ready so much more quickly.

Makes 4, can be doubled

For the quails

  • 4 quails, spatchcocked (ask your butcher or see recipe, it’s very easy)
  • 8 bamboo skewers (optional) ?
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil, for the tray

For the marinade

  • 1⁄2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 12g root ginger, peeled weight, grated
  • 5 fat garlic cloves, grated
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 scant tsp ground cumin
  • 2 scant tsp garam masala
  • 1⁄2 tsp chilli powder
  • 200g plain yogurt
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 2 big pinches of black pepper
  • lemon juice

Spatchcock your quails: place a bird breast-side down on a work surface. Using kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut down either side of the backbone all the way, to cut it out. Turn over and press down on the breastbone with the heel of your hand to gently flatten. Tuck the little legs slightly in and, taking one skewer (if using), pierce one leg at a diagonal angle through to the opposite wing. Repeat with the other side, through the other leg and wing, so the quail is speared with two diagonal skewers, as in the photo. This helps the bird keep its shape (but if you don’t have any skewers the recipe will still work fine). Season both sides lightly. Repeat to spatchcock the remaining quails.

Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and smear over the quail, coating both sides well. Cover and marinate in the fridge for one hour, or a couple of hours if you have time.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill (I use an oven grill and the fan). Place the quails on an oiled baking tray or foil on the middle shelf. Cook for eight minutes, then turn and cook for another four or five minutes or until done and golden on both sides. Check the birds are cooked by piercing the largest through its thickest point; the juice should run clear with no trace of pink. If they are not ready, cook for a few minutes longer, then check again. Serve immediately.