I first tried quail at a restaurant called Nopi (review here). Whilst you could argue quail is no more than a tiny chicken, it is more gamey in flavour and requires little time to cook in comparison to a chicken, due to its size. Typically hard to find, you will have to make an order at your local butcher or source at a local market. Make sure that you order it boned (i.e. with the bones removed) as this will save you a lot of trouble.

Due to their size you would serve one as a platter or two as a main. Whilst Nopi’s dish served the quail in pieces, I decided to keep the bird whole as I wanted to have a go at stuffing it. I wanted the stuffing to be meat based with a menage of nuts, fruits and spices. The spices I use in this recipe are: sumac, a reddish-purple powder used to add a tart, lemony taste, largely used in the Middle East and berber spice, a fiery, earthy spice mixture, a staple in Ethiopia, which includes coriander, fenugreek, allspice, cardamom, cloves, paprika, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and more.  I also use harissa, a North African  chilli pepper paste, to marinate the chicory. I think the chicory is an ideal vegetable, being slightly bitter, to balance out the sweetness of the prunes. Make sure you chose chicory that has crisp, fresh-looking leaves that are springy to the touch.

I went to the Sunday farmer’s market and they happened to be selling Bronze Turkey mince which I thought would work well with quail. As quail has a delicate taste you wouldn’t want to overpower it with other flavours. I find turkey to be quite delicate and the bronze turkey, which has a slightly darker meat, is known to be the tastier of the two.


Serves: 4 (as starter)

Time: 1.5 hour

Difficulty: Easy


  • 4 quails (boned)

For the seasoning:

  • knob of butter
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 2 tsp berber spice
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper

For the stuffing:

  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 150g minced bronze turkey (or regular turkey mince)
  • 6 prunes, chopped
  • 10 macadamia nuts, crushed
  • 50g bulgar
  • 120ml vegetable stock
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp sumac

For the chicory:

  • 2 red chicory (leaves separated)
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper



  1. First marinate the birds. Melt the butter in a bowl and mix in the salt, pepper,  berber spice and sumac. Pour over the quails and massage inside and out. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the stuffing. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium pan. When very hot, add the mince and brown over high heat, stirring from time to time, for five minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the bulgar,  stock, prunes, the sumac, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for five minutes. The bulgar should absorb all the liquid. Add the crushed macadamia nuts and mix. Remove from the hob and leave to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Wash the chicory and separate the leaves. Put the chicory, cut-side up, in an ovenproof dish. Mix the harissa paste in the stock and splash over the chicory. Season with black pepper and a little salt, then cover with foil. Cook for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes until really tender.
  4. Next you need to stuff the quail, sear it and put it into the oven. Spoon the stuffing in the quail and tie the legs with string. Add a knob of butter in a pan and sear the quails one by one on either side until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Place the quail in the oven and roast until cooked through and juices run clear, about 10 – 15 minutes. If you time it right, you will be putting the quail in the oven when you’re about to remove the foil from the chicory. Baste the quail every few minutes with a little stock from the braised chicory to keep the quail moist.
  5. Remove both the quails and the chicory from the oven and serve.