THIS week I’m cooking up a classic French ballottine — a traditional dish of a stuffed and rolled joint of meat or whole boned bird. Budding chefs, don’t be put off by the description, it can be prepared within minutes and the result — pretty impressive.
Although small birds, quails are perfect for the ballotine. I first tried quail in Spain, cooked over hot coals and deliciously tender. I was hooked from there and often prepare it at Maze Grill — it is very popular with our customers.
I recommend spatchcock quails or butterflied quail for a unique twist. Your local butcher should stock these, plus a small cooking chorizo sausage for the stuffing. The chorizo you are looking for has not been hung or aged, as we want the soft meat and spices to make the stuffing for our ballottine.
Parmesan polenta is a perfect match with the spices of the chorizo and subtle game flavors of the quail. Polenta is a finely ground cornmeal and has been a staple in the Italian kitchen for centuries. In fact, a bonus of this dish is any left overs can be spread in a lined baking tray and placed in the fridge. Once chilled the polenta can be sliced, crumbled into salads or chargrilled with lamb cutlets with pesto for a tasty combination.
But back to this week’s dish: