Spiced Spatchcocked Quail and Beetroot Barely Risotto

Pearl barely has become my new favourite alternative to Aborio rice for use in a risotto. Ok its not ‘authentic’ Italian but it has a delicious nutty taste, a beautiful texture that goes deliciously with earthy beetroot and is packed full or nutrients. This dish is delicious served with lemony dressed rocket, some tender spice roasted poussin and a gooey quail egg. But remove the meat and its a vegetarians dream. Serve this to your meat hating buddies in place of the stereotyped mushroom risotto or quiche and you’ll be in their good books.

Serves 2

  • 1 x spatchcocked poussin or 2 small quail. Alternatively use chicken legs or breast
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp spice mix (see here)
  • 120g pearl barely
  • 1 pint hot chicken stock
  • 125ml red wine
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped finely
  • 1 sprig thyme, leaves picked
  • 200g cooked beetroot, pureed in a food processor (save a piece and cut into cubes for texture if you like)
  • Handful finely grated parmesan
  • 1 knob butter
  • ½ lemon
  • Rocket leaves to serve
  • 2-4 quail eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Season the bird. Coat in the dry spices and 1 tbsp olive oil and use your hands to rub the mixture into the meat.
  2. Place on a lined baking tray and roast at a high heat for about 40 minutes for a spatchcocked poussin/quail. Baste with the juice twice during cooking. Once ready, remove from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving to serve.
  3. Meanwhile while the meat is cooking, make the risotto. Heat half a knob of butter with a small splash of oil in a saucepan. Very gently sweat the red onion in the butter for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a few more minutes. Season
  4. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the pearl barely. Toast in the pan with the onion stirring all the time. Next add the wine and simmer off until reduced.
  5. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, adding more only after each addition has been absorbed. Continue for about 25minutes or so until the pearl barley is tender. Keep adding stock until the barley is cooked but don’t drown the mixture especially towards the end of the cooking time or it will be too runny.
  6. When the barley is cooked, stir through the beetroot puree and cubed beetroot and taste and season again. Bring back up to the heat to warm through.
  7. Add the grated cheese, another knob of butter and a generous squeeze of lemon juice and remove form the heat. Place the lid on top and leave it sit and rest while you see to the quail eggs.
  8. To cook the quails eggs to a soft boil, simmer them in a briskly boiling pan of water for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and then plunge into cold water. When cool enough to handle, remove the shells.
  9. To serve, spoon a generous spoonful of risotto into a warmed bowl. Top with a handful of rocket dressed with plenty of lemon juice and seasoning.
  10. Carve the bird as required removing the legs and the breast meat. Place on top of the rocket. Slice your eggs in half at the last moment and finish the dish with their runny yolk centres and a good grinding of fresh black pepper.