ROASTED QUAIL, CHOCOLATE AND CRANBERRY BASTILLA
Recipe Nikki Werner ras el hanout,
1T olive oil 5 quails 2T (about 40ml)
RAS EL HANOUT, heaped salt and milled black pepper
for the sauce
3 whole cloves 6 black peppercorns 1 thumb-length piece
of cinnamon stick 1T cumin seeds ½T cardamom pods,
lightly crushed 2 cups Shiraz 2T soft, brown sugar 30g chocolate
(70% cocoa solids) 160g butter 2T good-quality beef stock 60g (½ cup) dried cranberries
bastilla ½ box ready-made
phyllo pastry 100g butter, melted
(for brushing) 100g raw almonds, toasted
and roughly ground 1 large egg, beaten good-quality cocoa,
Makes 8–10 small
bastilla Preheat the oven to 220°C. Rub olive oil into the quails, then sprinkle the salt and pepper over them, and rub into each one. Sear the quails on each side in a nonstick pan over a medium-high heat, until the skin is crisp and browned. (Take care to avoid burning the spice mix.) Place them in a baking dish and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes, while you lower the oven temperature to 180°C.
For the sauce, place all the spices in a small, heavy-based saucepan and toast, stirring now and then, until hot and fragrant. Add the wine and brown sugar, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. In the meantime, melt the chocolate and butter in another small, heavy-based saucepan, whisk in the stock and heat this mixture through. Strain the wine liquid into the chocolate mixture and add the cranberries. Simmer the sauce for about two minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Remove all the meat from the quails (keeping the skin on where it is crisp) and discard the bones. Unroll the phyllo pastry and use half of the leaves. Cut the pile of phyllo leaves in half along the fold down the middle. Cut the halves in half and the quarters in half again. This should give you eight piles of pastry rectangles, all roughly the same size. Remove three pieces and cover the rest with a damp tea towel. Brush butter over the first sheet and lightly sprinkle some of the almonds on top. Cover with another sheet of pastry and do the same. Cover that with a third sheet and, this time, just brush with butter, then place a small handful of the quail meat near one end of the rectangle. Top with two teaspoons of sauce. Fold the short end of the pastry over the meat and the two sides over that. Brush beaten egg over the longer side, roll up the pastry parcel and seal the end with some more beaten egg. Place on a greased baking sheet and brush butter over the top. Repeat this process until you have 8–10 bastilla and then bake for 15 minutes, until a light golden colour. Remove from the oven, dust cocoa powder over them (you could use a piece of lace or a doily as a stencil) and serve immediately, while still hot.
Note: Ras el hanout is an aromatic North African spice blend (a mixture of ground cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, allspice, cloves, and salt and pepper) that is available from specialist food stores.