Thyme-crumbed quail with roast beetroot mash

Thyme-crumbed quail with roast beetroot mash

A Year of Practiculture
Rohan Anderson & Kate Berry

Quail isn’t something I eat all the time – it’s definitely an autumn treat. My pointer and I hunt for quail over the wet fields of stubble. My dog does most of the work; I just try to keep up with him as he leads me on point to a bird. A pointer is the perfect dog for this kind of bird-hunting, as the quail are so tiny we’re hard-pressed to see them, but the dog will sniff them out and then stand on point with a bee-sting tail and a flattened posture. He’ll stand like that, dead still, until I catch up from maybe a few hundred metres behind him. We then flush out the bird and I’ll take aim with the shotgun. The pointer is also excellent for retrieving the fallen bird. By the end of a hunt, we’re both exhausted and sleep heavily in the warmth of the campfire. I love to cook quail over the coals of a campfire, but I also love cooking with this delicious bird in the kitchen once I’ve returned home.

Quail-hunting season is in autumn, so I like to use the root veg that’s growing in my garden at the time, and right now I have plenty of beetroot. I also have plenty of fresh herbs and a bag of quail. This is going to be a nice fresh meal for two.


Quantity Ingredient
3-4 garden-fresh beetroot
60ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
handful dried thyme sprigs, leaves picked
100g Toasted sourdough breadcrumbs
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
plain flour, for dusting
2-3 eggs, lightly beaten
6-8 quail, quartered
oil, for shallow-frying
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
handful basil, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a roasting tin.
  2. Wash the dirt off the beetroot, cut off the leaves (good for the chooks) and slice the beets in half. Toss them in half the olive oil and arrange cut side down in the prepared roasting tin. Bake for 45 minutes, or until soft enough to pierce with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the thyme with the breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Line up three bowls on the bench: one with the flour, one with the eggs and one with the thyme breadcrumbs. Dust each quail piece with the flour, then dunk in the egg, then coat in the breadcrumbs.
  5. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan and cook the quail pieces on both sides until golden brown, working in batches if necessary and laying them on paper towel to drain off any excess oil.
  6. When the beetroot is cooked through, mash it in a bowl and mix through a splash of balsamic vinegar, the remaining olive oil and the basil (reserving a little as a garnish). Season to taste.
  7. Serve the quail on the mashed beetroot, drizzled with olive oil and garnished with the reserved basil.
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