Quail fried in the manner of frogs' legs with celery leaves
Because they are so quickly cooked, quail can be sectioned or halved, dipped in egg and then in seasoned breadcrumbs and fried in shallow olive oil for a few minutes each side. This is exactly how the French like their frogs' legs. Or omit the crumbs, dust the pieces with flour and pan-fry in a mix of butter and oil, finishing with a squeeze of lemon and freshly chopped parsley.
Photo: Rebecca Hallas
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- 2 quail
- 2 cups light chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- large sprig thyme
- freshly ground pepper
- half a lemon
- 1 tsp capers, rinsed
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 egg
- 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 8 inner celery leaf sprigs (only the pale-yellow leaves are suitable)
- ½ cup olive oil, enough for a 5mm layer in a non-stick pan
- 1 tbsp butter
- Batter for celery leaves
- 1/4 cup cornflour
- 1/4 cup iced water
- 1 tbsp egg white
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
Trim quail and remove wishbone as above. Rinse inside and out and pat really dry.
Put all trimmings in a small pot with the stock, bay leaf, garlic and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Drop in the quail, cover and simmer gently for eight minutes.
Drain quail and, when cool enough to handle, cut off the legs and the breast fillets, still on the bone. Season well with salt and pepper. (Add the backbone and trimmings to the stock and simmer for half an hour. Strain, cool, label and freeze stock for another day.)
Carve the skin from the half-lemon and cut the flesh into tiny dice. Mix with the capers and set aside.
Set out three plates for flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and one larger one lined with kitchen paper for draining the fried quail.
Mix the batter for celery leaves and drop in celery leaves.
Heat the olive oil. Lift celery leaves from batter, allowing excess to drain away, and fry until very crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Dip quail pieces in flour, shake, then into egg and then into crumbs. Fry, turning once, until golden brown. Remove pieces to the paper-lined plate.
Wipe out the frying pan, reheat briefly, drop in the butter, the parsley, the capers and the lemon and then quickly tip the quail pieces back in the pan for a moment and shake to mix.
Serve at once with the crisp celery leaf fritters and a wedge of lemon.