Quails with Risotto

Tiny, delicately flavoured quails contrast well with creamy risotto in this recipe. Serve with a tossed green salad for a superb meal. When boning the quails it is only necessary to remove and discard the ribs, breasts and backbones.

1 oz. butter

8 quails, boned

1 oz. melted butter

4 tablespoons Madeira

8 fl. oz. game or chicken stock

4 oz. chicken livers, chopped

4 slices lean bacon, chopped, blanched and drained

2 teaspoons butter

1 egg yolk

4 teaspoons ground almonds

1 tablespoon Madeira

2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon black pepper

1 truffle, chopped (optional)

2 oz. butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 medium-sized red pepper, white pith removed, seeded and chopped

4 oz. button mushrooms, chopped

2 teaspoon dried basil

2 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

12 oz. Italian rice, such as Avorio

12 pints boiling veal or chicken stock

1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to hot 425 F (Gas Mark 7, 220°C).

First make the stuffing. In a small bowl, combine the chicken livers, bacon, butter, egg yolk, ground almonds, Madeira, salt, pepper and the truffle, if you are using it. Set aside.

With the 1 ounce of butter, grease eight 6- by 10-inch pieces of greaseproof or waxed paper or aluminium foil.

Lay the boned quails, breast side down, on the greaseproof or waxed paper or foil. Place about 2 teaspoons of the stuffing on each quail. Pull up the edges of the paper or foil to reshape the quails, twisting the ends to secure the paper or foil. Leave an opening in the top of the paper or foil. Pour a little of the melted butter and the Madeira into each opening.

Place the quail parcels in a roasting tin and place the tin in the oven. Roast the quails for 20 to 25 minutes or until the flesh is tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife and the juices that run out are clear. After 15 minutes of cooking, open the paper or foil and turn the quails over, so that the breast is uppermost. At the end of the cooking time reduce the oven temperature to very cool 250°F (Gas Mark i, 130°C). Keep the quails in the oven until the risotto has been cooked.

Meanwhile, make the risotto. In a large frying-pan, melt half of the butter with the oil over moderately high heat. When the foam subsides, reduce the heat to moderate. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper and fry them, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown. Stir in the mushrooms, basil, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

Add the rice, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add approximately one-third of the boiling stock. Regulate the heat so that the rice is bubbling all the time. Stir the rice occasionally with a fork. When the rice swells and the liquid is absorbed, add another one-third of the stock. Continue cooking the rice in this way until the rice is tender and moist but still firm.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining butter and the cheese. Turn the mixture into a large warmed serving dish.

Remove the tin from the oven and place the quails on top of the risotto. Keep warm while you make the sauce. Pour the cooking juices from the paper or foil into a small saucepan. Place the pan over high heat and pour in the game or chicken stock. Boil the sauce for 4 minutes or until it has reduced by about half.

Remove the pan from the heat. Pour a little sauce over each quail and serve immediately.

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