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Risotto Alle Quaglie Risotto with quail. Serves 4.

From Giorgio Locatelli.

4 quails
100g/3.5 oz butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
40g/1.5oz pancetta, finely diced
125ml/4fl oz white wine
1 tablespoon tomato puree 900ml/ 1.5 pints quail stock (made from the quail carcasses) or chicken stock
1 onion, finely chopped
300g/10 oz superfine carnaroli rice
4 tablespoons tomato passata
4 tablespoons tomato passata
Olive oil for frying
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
8 sage leaves, to garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 170 oC/325 oC/ Gas mark 3. Cut the legs off the quails and bone each leg- to do this ,run a very sharp knife along the length of the bone, then with the tip of the knife carefully ease the bone away from the flesh and remove it. Cut the breasts off the birds too, and set them aside.
Heat 25g/1oz of the butter in a small casserole. Season the legs, then add them to the casserole and brown on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the shallot and pancetta to the pan and cook gently until softened. Return the legs to the pan, pour in 2 tablespoons of white wine and simmer gently until evaporated. Add the tomato puree and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Add 125ml/4fl oz of stock and bring to the boil, then cover the casserole and transfer to the oven. Cook for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining stock into a pan and keep it at simmering point. Melt 50g/2 oz of the remaining butter in a large heavy based pan, add the onion and cook gently until the onion is very soft but not browned. Add the rice and cook, stirring, over a medium heat until it is coated with the butter. Pour in the remaining wine and simmer until it has been absorbed by the rice.
Stir in the tomato passata and cook for 1-2 minutes longer. Add the hot stock a ladleful at a time, stirring well between each addition and waiting until three-quarters of the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. After about 10 minutes, add the quail leg mixture, together with all its liquid, then continue adding the stock as before. Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Season the quail breasts, add them to the pan, skin side down and sear for about 2 minutes, until well browned underneath.
Turn them over and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside. When the rice is tender and moist and all the stock has been added, remove from the heat and leave for 30 seconds. Dice the remaining butter and stir it in, together with the grated Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Quickly fry the sage leaves in about 1cm/ 0.5in of olive oil for 30 seconds or so, until crisp. Put the risotto in 4 warmed serving bowls, top with the quail’s breasts and sage leaves and serve immediately.

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Last updated: 17/02/08