Co. Antrim Quail, with Mustard Tarragon and Spring Vegetables


This dish is served in the River Room as a starter on the A La Carte menu in the River Room and also on the tasting menu.
It uses quail, a small, poultry like bird that we get from a small artisan producer, Sebastian McMichael based in County Antrim. The dish itself is one of the more popular offerings on the menu and is highly rated among our guests. It comprises of quail breasts, dumplings made from the legs and potato, spring vegetables and a mustard sauce.
This recipe can have the quail replaced by Poussin, a small chicken, or a larger chicken as the main course if quail is unavailable.


Ingredients: Serves 4

4 quail (or 1 large chicken as the main course for 4 people)
Good quality mustard like Savora or English.
100ml white wine
150ml cream
30g chopped tarragon
250g dry mashed potato
1 egg
50g strong flour
200g sprouting broccoli
8 baby carrots
80g broad beans
Butter, olive oil, salt and pepper


For the Potato and Leg Dumplings

Remove the legs from the birds and gently poach in the white wine until the meat can be easily picked from the bones, strain the stock and set aside.
Combine the leg meat, potato, egg and half of the tarragon and season to taste.
Form this into a dough and roll into small balls, about 2 per person, poach these in boiling water until the float for a few seconds then remove and set aside, coating them in a little oil to ensure that they don’t stick together.


For the Mustard Sauce

Take the poaching stock from the legs and reduce it by half, add the cream and reduce by half again, at this point add the mustard to taste and the remaining tarragon, season and set aside.


To cook the Quail and the Vegetables

Have a pot of water on for the vegetables and a frying pan on for the quail.
Firstly, remove the backbone from the birds leaving only the crown, cook these crowns in a little oil in a hot pan until golden on each side, add the butter and when it starts to foam, spoon into the cavity of each bird to baste them. Place the birds in the oven on a tray for around 5 minutes at 180c. When cooked allow to rest. The dumplings can be added to the still hot pan at this point to give them a crisp texture and golden colour.
While the birds are cooking, the baby carrots can go in the water for around 8 minutes, followed by the beans and the broccoli near the end of this time, allowing vegetables to all be ready together.
Transfer the vegetables into another hot saucepan with a little olive oil and toss to allow any excess water to evaporate, season with salt and pepper.


To Assemble

Remove the breasts from the birds by cutting along the breastbone with a small sharp knife and working the knife along the inside of the carcase towards the wing bone, then remove the wing bones from the breasts. Place the breasts on a wide bowl or plate and arrange the leg dumplings and vegetables alongside. Warm and pour a little of the sauce to one side and garnish with a few picked tarragon leaves.

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