Chicken, duck, guinea fowl and quail

A brilliant yellow (from the saffron and turmeric), fragrant and spicy Moroccan dish that actually gains from reheating, so great over the holidays. Serve with bulgur or couscous.

Serves 4
4 free-range chicken legs (or 1 free-range chicken cut in 4 pieces)
salt and pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 measure powdered saffron or saffron threads
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
a 2cm piece of cinnamon stick
250ml chicken stock or water
plenty of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 preserved lemon*, peel only, cut in tiny dice
a handful of green or black olives
1 packet of coriander/cilantro, chopped

  • Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper
  • In a small dish mix together the ground ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric and saffron and rub this spice mixture into the chicken. If time, leave to marinate for a few hours
  • Heat the oil in a large casserole or paella pan (or tagine) and sear the chicken pieces on both sides till lightly golden. Remove them to a plate
  • In the same oil (add a bit more to film the bottom if necessary) soften the onions and garlic without allowing them to take colour
  • Return the chicken pieces to the casserole, add the cinnamon stick, stock or water and chopped parsley, bring the casserole to a simmer and cook over gentle heat for about 30 minutes
  • Fish out the cinnamon stick, stir in the diced preserved lemon and the olives and cook 10-15 minutes more. If the juice is very copious, lift out the chicken and keep it warm while you reduce the juice to about 1 cup by fast boiling. Pour it back over the chicken, sprinkle generously with chopped coriander/cilantro and serve

*Preserved lemons
Cover 4 lemons with water, bring to a boil, drain and discard water. Repeat the process 2 more times. Pack blanched lemons into a wide-necked jar with lid, with some sprigs of thyme. Dissolve 100g coarse salt and 150g sugar in ½ litre water and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour this salty syrup over the lemons, close tightly and leave for several months to mature.

Here’s a recipe from my son who lived for 10 years in Latin America, now relocated to Barcelona. His chimichurri is a sort of cross between the Argentine sauce and a parsley pesto – he toasts the nuts, chiles and garlic first, and then blends them till smooth with tons of flat-leaf parsley, olive oil and lemon juice. Try it with all manner of meats, fish or pasta.
Serves 6-8 as part of mixed tapas
500g chicken breasts
salt and pepper
juice 1 lemon
2 tbs olive oil
1-2 fresh green chiles (peperoncini/piments verts)
4-8 cloves garlic, depending on your garlic taste/tolerance
30g peeled almonds or pine nuts
½ cup olive oil
A big bunch of flat-leaf parsley, tough stems removed, leaves roughly chopped (about 40g leaves)
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper

  • Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and leave to marinate for a few hours
  • For the chimichurri, put the chiles, unpeeled garlic cloves and peeled almonds in a heavy, ungreased frying pan or on a griddle
  • Heat steadily, turning and shaking all three ingredients so the almonds are golden and the garlic and chile evenly browned and soft
  • Remove from heat, snip off ends of chile, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard, put the flesh in the blender
  • Slip the soft garlic out of the husks and add to blender with the toasted almonds and oil
  • Blend till smooth, then add the chopped parsley, lemon juice and salt and pepper
  • Blend again till smooth, check the seasoning
  • Grill the chicken breasts till just cooked, cut in strips
  • Heat some tortillas (or toast pita bread or split flatbread)
  • Fill with some chicken strips and a dollop of chimichurri, roll up or fold over and serve

A pretty pink/white/green summer salad inspired by a recipe in Elizabeth David’s book Summer Cooking. Prepare all the component parts a day ahead, ready to assemble. Dunking the smoked chicken in boiling water makes it easier to peel away the skin.
Serves 8
1 smoked chicken (about 1.2kg) – to give ca. 700g meat
4 eggs
1 x 800g tin flageolets
lettuce leaves, red onion and tarragon leaves to garnish
Salt, pepper, mustard
150ml olive oil
50ml sherry vinegar
1 egg
a pinch of sugar

  • Put the chicken in a large bowl and cover with boiling water
  • Leave for 10 minutes, then peel off all the skin and discard
  • Take all flesh off bones, shred in manageable pieces
  • Put the eggs in a pan of cold water, bring to a boil and set the timer for 5 minutes
  • Drain the eggs, rinse in abundant cold water, remove shells
  • For the dressing, blitz together salt, pepper, mustard, oil, vinegar, egg and sugar in blender
  • To assemble the salad, arrange lettuce leaves in a shallow dish or platter
  • Rinse and drain the flageolets and arrange in a ring on the lettuce leaves around the edge of the dish
  • Put the shredded chicken in the middle
  • Cut eggs in quarters and arrange them around
  • Drizzle dressing over the salad and sprinkle thinly sliced or chopped red onion and tarragon leaves on top


The duck breasts for this terrific summer salad are cooked rare (using the low-temperature/80ºC oven method), chilled, sliced thinly and splayed out on a platter. In the middle goes an asparagus salad, topped with a tomato relish.  When asparagus is out of season, put a heap of mixed salad leaves, or something à la grecque in the middle instead.

Serves 6
2 large duck breasts – magrets de canard (about 350g each)
salt and pepper
1kg slender green asparagus, trimmed and cut in slanting 2-3 cm pieces
4-5 tbsp vinaigrette
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, mashed
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
chopped tarragon or parsley to garnish

  • Heat the oven to 80ºC and put in an ovenproof dish for the duck
  • Season the duck on both sides with salt and pepper
  • Heat a heavy frying pan without any added fat (splash in a drop of water – it should sizzle fiercely and disappear promptly). Sear the duck breasts skin sides down until the skin is golden brown – about 2-3 minutes
  • Lift out the breasts, discard the fat, wipe out pan with paper towels and return the pan to the heat. Sear the flesh side (1-2’)
  • Transfer the duck breasts to the ovenproof dish and bake uncovered for about 1 hour
  • Remove the duck breasts, let them cool, then refrigerate them
  • Trim and cut the asparagus and cook in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes or until just cooked
  • Drain asparagus pieces, splash with cold water to set the colour, put them in a bowl, dress with vinaigrette and allow to cool
  • For tomato relish, heat some oil and soften the chopped onion and garlic gently without allowing them to brown
  • Add the chopped tomato flesh, season with salt and pepper and cook gently to a nice jammy consistency, stirring occasionally, 5-10’
  • Slice the chilled duck very thinly and arrange it round the edge of a serving platter
  • Pile up the asparagus salad in the middle, top with the tomato relish and sprinkle with tarragon or parsley


The new season’s choucroute starts appearing in our shops in September. Fresh, sharp and crunchy, it makes an excellent foil for rich meats like duck. Here a savoury mixture of choucroute and apples is slipped under the skin of the duck breasts, which are roasted and served with a red wine butter sauce spiked with juniper berries.

Serves 8
1 medium-sized dessert apple (e.g. Braeburn, Maigold, Cox), peeled and diced
300g cooked choucroute
3-4 tbsp crème fraîche
4 duck breasts with skin, about 350g each
salt and pepper
25g butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
300ml chicken or beef stock
150ml robust red wine
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3-4 juniper berries, smashed with the blade of a knife
100g cold butter, cut in pieces

  • Put the choucroute in a colander and press out any excess liquid
  • Put it in a bowl and add the apple dice and cream
  • Peel and cut away the skin from the breasts, leaving it attached all along one side. Season the breasts and skin
  • Lay the choucroute stuffing on top of the breasts, bring the skin up and over and score it with a sharp knife. Fix the skin over the filling with toothpicks
  • Heat the oven to 220oC.
  • Set the breasts, skin side uppermost, on a cake rack over a roasting pan. Put about one inch of water in the bottom of the pan (to prevent the fat burning and smoking)
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes – the skin should be golden and crusty and the meat still pink
  • For the sauce, melt the butter and cook the shallot till soft but not brown
  • Add the stock, bring to a fast boil and reduce by half; add the wine, vinegar and juniper berries and reduce again by half
  • Pull the pan off the heat and whisk in the cold butter bit by bit until the sauce is glossy and somewhat thickened (if you wish you can thicken it more with a little cornflour/Maizena – mix with some sauce, whisk in and bring back to a boil)
  • Slice the duck breasts and serve with some sauce



Serves 6
2 x 30cm rounds of puff pastry
6 guinea fowl or pheasant breasts
salt and pepper
6 slices fresh duck foie gras (200g)
OR 200g chopped cooked mushrooms
1 egg (to glaze pastry)
25g butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, mashed
150g mushrooms (include some wild if possible), sliced
100ml dry white wine
100ml chicken or beef stock
a sprig of thyme
200ml crème fraîche épaisse (thick soured cream)
salt and pepper

  • Place one puff pastry round on non-stick paper on a baking sheet
  • Season the meat and arrange on the pastry, star-form, leaving a border of at least 1 inch/2.5 cms all around the edge
  • Lay a slice of foie gras (or duxelles) on top of the meat
  • Brush all exposed pastry with water
  • Lay the second puff pastry round on top, press down in the spaces between guinea fowl/pheasant to seal together; press down with a fork all round the circumference to seal edges together
  • Snip holes in the top with scissors to let steam escape, make cross-hatchings with the point of a sharp knife without piercing pastry
  • Brush the pastry with beaten egg; refrigerate the tourte if not to be baked immediately
  • Heat the oven to 220oC
  • Bake the tourte for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crispy and the meat firm and just cooked (meat thermometer 70oC)
  • Heat the butter in a small pan and soften the shallot and garlic
  • Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper
  • Cook slowly for 5 minutes till the juices run; raise the heat and cook hard to evaporate juices
  • Add the wine and cook till completely reduced; add the stock and thyme and reduce by half
  • Stir in the cream, check the seasoning, remove thyme and serve


I still remember the lunch special in a tiny trattoria in Bergamo (northern Italy), quaglie con polenta – quail with polenta. Couldn’t wait to get home to try it for myself – it’s great fast food which you can knock off inside half an hour, provided you use quick-cooking polenta flour. The quail are split, flattened, seasoned, anointed with a flavourful oil and – perhaps – a sprig of rosemary, then grilled to perfection. BTW, reserve quail for people who like eating with their fingers. It’s a shame if they’re the kind to suffer agonies as they pick over the dish with their knife and fork, and then leave most of it.

Serves 2
2 quail
chopped red onion
a little olive or herb-flavoured oil (see page 00)
125g quick-cooking polenta
350ml water
250ml milk
a knob of butter

  • Using scissors or game shears, cut the quail open along the backbone
  • Put them on a board and press down hard on the breast bone with the flat of your hand to flatten them slightly
  • Put them in a lightly oiled, shallow enamelled cast iron dish, season the birds lightly, brush with a little oil and scatter chopped onion over them
  • Heat the grill to maximum and grill the birds for 3-4 minutes on each side
  • Meanwhile mix the polenta with the water, milk and salt in a heavy based saucepan
  • Bring to the boil, stirring – keep a lid handy, as it plops about rather volcanically
  • Cook for 2 minutes, by which time it should resemble a golden porridge
  • Lift the quails out of their dish when they are ready and spoon the polenta into it
  • Re-arrange the quails on top and serve


A great recipe for a spring buffet, the quail are bathed in a lemon marinade, then grilled, halved and served over a selection of salad leaves, sprinkled with edible flowers and set about with quails’ eggs. A combination grill/fan oven works very well for the quail: they brown nicely at the same time as cooking through.

Serves 12 (more, if part of a buffet)
12 oven-ready quail
juice 2 lemons
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 red onion, finely chopped
3-4 sprigs thyme, pulled apart
12 quails’ eggs
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp wine vinegar
1 tsp mustard
a pinch of sugar
selected salad leaves (oak leaf, red oak leaf, lollo, rocket etc.)
some edible flowers (e.g. heartsease, chives, calendula)

  • Wipe the quail with a damp cloth and remove any extraneous heads, wing pinions, feathers etc.
  • Put them in a large roasting pan which will accommodate them in a single layer.
  • Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, onion and thyme.
  • Sprinkle this over the quail. Leave them to marinate for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.
  • If you have a combination oven, switch it to grill plus fan heat, and set the temperature at 240oC; otherwise simply heat the grill to maximum.
  • Grill/roast the quail for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and only just cooked. (If you do not have a combination oven, turn the birds once.)
  • Remove from the oven, cut the birds in half and return them to the roasting pan to cool off in their juices.
  • Plunge the quails’ eggs in rapidly boiling water for 3 minutes.
  • Drain, refresh, peel and halve them.
  • Mix together the ingredients for the dressing and stir in any juices from the quail
  • Arrange the salad leaves on a large shallow dish and dress lightly
  • Set the halved quails on top and spoon a little more dressing onto them. Intersperse with quails’ eggs and flowers.



A great recipe for a summer buffet, the quail are butterflied, bathed in a lemon marinade, then grilled and served over a selection of salad leaves with cilantro pesto. A combination grill/fan oven works well: the quail brown nicely at the same time as cooking through – or do them on the barbecue if you prefer.

Serves 6
6 oven-ready quail
juice 2 lemons
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 red onion, finely chopped
3-4 sprigs thyme, pulled apart
Cilantro pesto
6-8 cloves garlic, mashed
4-6 tbsp pine nuts or walnuts
a huge bunch of cilantro, leaves only
a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

salad leaves (oak leaf, red oak leaf, lollo, rocket etc.)
some edible flowers (e.g. heartsease, chives, calendula)

  • Butterfly and flatten the quail and place in a large roasting pan
  • Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, onion and thyme, spoon this over the quail and leave to marinate for a few hours
  • Set combination oven to grill + fan and heat to 240oC (or heat grill or barbecue to maximum)
  • Grill/roast the quail for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and just cooked. (If using grill/BBQ, turn birds once, halfway through cooking)
  • Leave quail in the roasting pan to cool off in their juices
  • Put garlic, pine nuts, cilantro and parsley in liquidizer or food processor and blend/process finely. Add olive oil in a steady stream and continue blending/processing until smooth
  • Arrange salad leaves on a large flat dish, arrange the quails on top, spoon on some pesto and scatter flowers on top



A variant on the apparently limitless Middle Eastern kofta theme: little patties of duck or lamb with soaked bulgur (cracked wheat), chopped walnuts and spices, fried till crisp in olive oil.

Makes about 24 kofta
100g bulgur
1 shallot
a small pack coriander/cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
a good pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed dried chiles
salt and pepper
12 walnut halves
500g skinned duck breast (or aiguillettes de canard) or lean lamb
1 egg
oil for frying

  • Put bulgur in a bowl, cover generously with warm water and leave to soak till soft when squeezed between your fingers (at least 1 hour)
  • Put the shallot (cut in quarters), roughly chopped coriander/cilantro, crushed garlic, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne or chiles, salt, pepper and walnuts in a food processor and process till chopped very fine
  • Cut the duck breast/aiguillettes or lamb in pieces, add to processor with the egg and process till chopped to a sausagemeat consistency
  • Drain the bulgur and shake off any excess water, add to processor and process again till mixed into the meat
  • Using wet hands, shape the mixture into ping pong-sized balls and set on a plate – refrigerate till ready to fry/grill
  • Heat a film of oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat and fry the kofta for about 5 minutes each side, pressing down a little to flatten – till golden and crispy OR thread the balls onto skewers, press them together firmly and grill on a barbecue or under the grill/broiler till golden and crisp
  • Arrange kofta on a platter lined with leaves (vine, chicory, lettuce)and serve with baba ghanoush

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s