October 5th, 2013
It was Saturday and I wanted lots of quail for a barbecue tomorrow (we’d invited as many as 20 people potentially), so I needed to be at the Boqueria early. I was disappointed when trying to buy lots of quail on an August afternoon and I wasn’t making that mistake again!
Boutique del Pollastre Flora is normally a good place to buy most fowl and their oversize quail cost 1.39€ each, which is great.
My heart did sink when I only saw 3 quail sitting on a tray, but the cheerful butcher disappeared downstairs and came back with a full box. He spatchcocked the little birds to save me the trouble later.
Next I went to buy spices for a marinade from Platans i Especies Morilla, an unusual stall which specialises in spices and bananas. I barely notice the banana department on the other side because I’m generally more interested in the brightly coloured powders. Perhaps there’s a family connection with Morilla Fruites, the stall next door?
I asked the Spice Lady what kind of spice she had for quail. She responded that she didn’t have anything and went silent. I tried a different tack and asked what she had for chicken. This time she said she had a mild herb mixture or chimichurri which was a bit more piquant. I took 100g of the latter.
I’d seen a wonderful recipe for Octopus Carpaccio, posted by Chica Andaluza recently and had been dying to try it out. So I bought an octopus (about 1 kilo) from one of the Boqueria Fish Ladies before dropping the shopping back at the flat and going out to lunch.
We went to Bar Victoria for lunch, but since I last posted lunch there in August, it seemed premature to reblog them so soon. Needless to say though, the food was excellent and they even gave us a free beer while we waited for a table. Bar Victoria is one of the few places where they do a menu del dia for lunch and supper at about 11€ all in!
I chopped a handfull of coriander and six pieces of garlic, which got mixed together with several cups of olive oil, the chimichurri, the juice of a lemon and a heaped teaspoonful of hot smoked pimentón. I kept tasting the marinade until it tasted good and the amount looked right for 14 quail. Each bird was dipped and smothered in marinade then placed into a large freezer bad. The small amount left in the bottom of the bowl went into the bag of quail too – all this went into the fridge overnight.
First of all one needs a cooked octopus of about 1 kilo in weight. Ordinarily it’s best to freeze an octopus before cooking, because this helps to make it tender and reduce cooking time. We didn’t have time for freezing and defrosting, so opted for long slow cooking.
Oli cleaned the octopus, removing the beak, eyes and internal organs (there’s great footage of this in the instructional video). The octopus was cooked gently in a stock made with an onion, a few whole pieces of garlic, allspice, star anis, bay and fennel seeds. If you dip the legs in 5 or 6 times it makes them curl up (as per the picture two above), which makes them look good and helps with the recipe.
Octopussy was cooked for about one hour and fifteen minutes, until it was tender (freezing would probably reduced cooking time by about half). Allow to cool before proceeding with the next stage.
For the next stage of the recipe, you need a 1 litre plastic drinks bottle. I bought tonic so that I could drink the London No 1 Gin sitting on a shelf!
Cut the top off the bottle so that you have a long tube. Pierce the bottom, so that there are 6 or 7 drainage holes. Cut 4 equally spaced strips from the top of the bottle to about half way down. These 4 strips will be trimmed and folded down on top of the octopus, once it’s inside the bottle.
Cut the head off the octopus and the body into 4 parts. Push all the pieces into the bottle. We used a cleaned wine bottle to squash all the parts firmly down, it does need a lot of squashing. Liquid will come out through the drainage holes at the bottom – this can be discarded or kept as stock for something else.
Trim the plastic strips at the top of the bottle, so that they fold over the octopus. Press them down firmly and wrap the bottle tightly in several layers of cling film. Put the bottled octopus into the fridge and chill overnight.
Felling hungry after all that exertion, Oli prepared a Brill with some fennel seeds, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
The fish was baked in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 200º C. It tasted amazing!
Coming next Quail Barbecue…