Yep, it's that time of the year again, where I yell at the TV on a nightly basis. You guessed it, Masterchef is back on our screens. It's the show that I love to hate. I did apply for Masterchef last year, but failed to impress the executive producers. Apparently I wasn't enthusiastic enough about wanting to win. I think the real problem was that I didn't cry in my audition or mention the word 'cancer.' Unfortunately, I couldn't apply this year, because I had other commitments during the filming period. So, instead, I like to play Masterchef at home.
After watching the episode the other night where Matt Moran challenged a whole bunch of contestants to cooking the Gnocchi and Quail dish, I thought I'd have to give it a go. It looked seriously fantastic on the show, so I thought I'd treat Em to a special dinner and whip it up for her on the weekend, whilst she was at work.
The recipe is relatively easy as far as skill level goes, but it is a bit time consuming to get everything ready for 'service.'
I'd never boned a Quail before, which is half the reason why I wanted to make the dish, to see if I could do it. It's actually not that hard. With a nice, sharp boning knife, you can cut out the spinal cord and rib cage quite easily. It's a little fiddly, but after two or three, you start to get the hang of it.
The finished dish, really is as tasty as it looks and definitely worth a go!
The recipe makes enough for two or maybe three people for a main. I allowed for 1.5 quails per person.
The recipe below is from the Masterchef website
½ butternut pumpkin
750g royal blue potatoes, roasted
75g plain flour
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil for tossing
1 large quail, each.
30ml vegetable oil
salt and pepper
30g salted butter, diced
20ml olive oil
10g pecorino, grated
20g unsalted butter
chervil, to garnish
100g blanched pumpkin
½ bunch sage, leaves (reserved for garnish)
Step 1: Prepare pumpkin
Peel and deseed the butternut pumpkin and then dice into 1cm cubes. Blanch in salted, boiling water for approximately 3 minutes, refresh in ice water and then drain.
Step 2: Prepare gnocchi
To prepare the gnocchi, scrape out the inside of the potatoes. Mash the potato and then pass through a sieve. Combine the flour, egg and salt with the potato and work into dough. Roll the dough in a sausage shape (approximately 2cm in diameter). Cut the dough into 2cm wide discs. Add the gnocchi to salted, boiling water. Cook until the gnocchi rises to the surface and then scoop out and refresh in iced water. Drain the gnocchi and then toss with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.
Step 3: De-bone quail
To prepare the quail, trim winglets at the second joint. Using a boning knife, slice along the top of the neck; carefully fold back the neck skin, without tearing it, to reveal the top of the breast meat. Slice around the 'wishbone' and remove it. Insert a cook’s knife in the tail-end of the quail up to the neck and carefully cut along both sides of the back bone. Trim off the excess neck skin. Using the boning knife, carefully cut between the rib cage and breast meat, leaving the breast fillets, winglets and legs intact. Trim any excess fat and skin.
Step 4: Cook and serve
Season the quail with salt and pepper. Heat the 20ml olive oil in a fry pan and when hot add the quail skin side down. Cook on a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown then turn over. Add in the butter then when it begins to turn to a nutty brown baste the quail for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the quail from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving. (Please note: quail should be served pink).
Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and then add in the pumpkin and seasoning. Cook until the pumpkin is caramelised and then remove. In the same pan, add in the gnocchi and caramelise until golden. Season to taste. Stir in diced butter until it starts to turn into a nutty brown colour. Add in the sage and remove from the heat.
To serve, cut the quail in half and arrange on a plate with the gnocchi and pumpkin. Drizzle over the nutty butter and then garnish with the sage leaves, freshly grated pecorino and chervil.