Archive of BBC Food Recipes

Smoked quail with port dressing and cauliflower salad

Prep time less than 30 mins
Cook time less than 30 mins
Serves 2
From MasterChef
Inspired by Masterchef to expand your culinary horizons? Try John Torode's home-smoked quail for a delightfully different dinner.


  1. For each quail, cut down either side of the back bone, remove the bone and turn over the quail. Push down using the palm of your hand to flatten. Turn it back over and gently pull out the rib cage. Using your fingers, gently pull the breast bone away from the meat. Remove the bones from the legs and wings.

  2. For the smoking mix, combine the ingredients and put in a foil-lined wok. Heat over a medium heat for a few minutes until it begins to smoke.

  3. Put the quails on a circular wire rack and place inside the wok. Put the lid on and smoke for 5 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, for the port dressing, put the wine, port, shallot and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by three-quarters. Pass through a fine sieve and set aside.

  5. For the the salad, put the cauliflower in a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice, then drain and return to the bowl.

  6. Meanwhile, rub the smoked quail with the olive oil and place it skin side-down in a hot pan. Cook until the skin is crisp, then turn over and, after a few seconds, add the butter and walnut halves.

  7. Baste the quail and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and leave to rest before carving into four pieces. Pour the butter and walnuts onto the cauliflower.

  8. Deglaze the quail pan with the port dressing. Return the quail to the frying pan. Coat and glaze with the dressing. Remove the quail from the pan and strain the sauce through a sieve.

  9. Arrange the oak leaf lettuce on a warm plate along with the pickled walnuts and spring onions. Spoon over the cauliflower and walnuts. Arrange the quail on the plate, drizzle over the dressing and serve.


  • 2 quail
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 25g/1oz unsalted butter
  • 30g/1oz walnut halves

For the quail smoking mix

  • 6 tbsp rice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 25g/1oz Lapsang Souchong loose tea
  • 1 star anise
  • 6 thyme sprigs

For the port dressing

  • 250ml/9fl oz red wine
  • 250ml/9fl oz port
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the salad

  • 2 cauliflower florets, thinly sliced using a mandolin
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 oak leaf lettuce head, leaves picked
  • 4 pickled walnuts, sliced
  • 4 spring onions, white part only, sliced at an angle

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Smoked quail with port dressing and cauliflower salad

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