About Great Food

Sophie Grigson

Barbecued Quail with Herbes de Provence and Anchoļade

There's no point fiddling around too much with quail. They are too small for fussy preparations unless you happen to have a huge team of helpers in the kitchen. I once boned, stuffed, and rolled a brace of quail, but what a performance for something that disappeared in a couple of mouthfuls! The one and only bit of fiddling around that I consider worthwhile is spatchcocking or in other words, opening the quails out flat, bones and all, so that they can be broiled or barbecued quickly and evenly. It hardly takes any time and the results are very good. Here, the quails are flavored with herbes de Provence and served with a powerful anchovy and garlic sauce.

Serves 4 as an appetizer, or 2 as a main course

  • 4 quail
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence, crumbled to a rough powder
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve:
  • 4 tablespoons Anchoļade
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
Spatchcock the quails. Rub the crushed garlic over them and sprinkle with the herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper. Squeeze the lemon juice over them and rub it in. Leave, covered, for a couple of hours.

Thin the anchoļade with the olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, and reserve.

Preheat the broiler or a barbecue grill. Brush the quail with olive oil. Broil or barbecue them close to the heat for about 7 to 8 minutes on the skin side and then turn them over and give them another 5 minutes on the other side. Alternatively, you can place them skin-side down on a grill-pan and pan broil for about 4 minutes until the skin is well browned. Turn them over, reduce the heat slightly, and give them 5 minutes on the bony side until they are cooked through.

Serve immediately with the anchoļade. Make sure they are still piping hot (being so small, quails lose heat fairly quickly) allowing two per person for a main course or one per person for a first course. Don't forget to provide plenty of fresh napkins and finger bowls because the only remotely sensible way to eat quails is with your fingers.

AnchoĻade - Anchovy and garlic sauce

The word pungent might have been invented to describe this dramatic anchovy and garlic sauce from Provence. It is not for the faint hearted, but if you like the salty taste of anchovies and have a bit of a penchant for garlic, you'll love it. After all, it only takes a couple of minutes to whip up.

Though it is more traditionally served spread on toast or on bread that is then baked in the oven, sometimes, it is served with a selection of crudités-sticks of raw vegetables. It's a welcome development. I find the combination of anchoļade and sweet cherry tomato totally irresistible, and the natural fresh sweetness of other raw vegetables makes an excellent counterbalance to the pungency of the anchoļade.

Though the quantity produced here may at first seem small, the intensity of flavors means that it goes a long way. If you have some left over, mix a spoonful or two with more olive oil and red wine vinegar to make a dressing for broiled, skinned peppers, or try it on other salads, too. Perhaps more surprisingly, it is also very good with lamb - smear it thinly over fat chops, leave to absorb the flavors for a few hours and then broil. I've also stirred a little into mayonnaise to give it an extra lift.

Serves 8-10

  • 2 oz canned anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

Slices of baguette, or good country bread and/or a selection of raw vegetables, such as celery, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, radishes, strips of fennel, strips of red, yellow or green pepper, cherry tomatoes on cocktail sticks, etc.

To make the anchoļade, put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and start the blades going. Pour the olive oil in, in a steady stream, to form a thick cream. And that's it. If you don't have a processor, get a good, sharp knife, mix all the solid ingredients and chop away dedicatedly until they are virtually reduced to a purée. Place in a bowl and whisk in the olive oil. For serving, you have several choices: you can either toast the bread and serve it warm for people to slather the anchoļade on, or, you can spread the anchoļade on the bread, place on a generously oiled baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes in a hot oven (around 400°F). You can offer a selection of crudités (raw vegetables) as well, to dip into the anchoļade. Or you can serve the bread untoasted, cut into strips for dipping, with the selection of vegetables. Or you can dispense with bread altogether and just serve the crudités. It's entirely up to you.

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