Pan fried quail with creamed leeks and parsnip puree with crispy vegetables, potato rosti and a port and mushroom reduction

Brian McKavanagh's signature dish from Heat 4 of MasterChef 2014


  • for the quail:
  • 4 oven ready quail
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 fresh nutmeg
  • for the sauce:
  • carcass of 2 quail
  • 1 medium carrots
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 sticks celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • water
  • 100ml beef stock
  • 100ml port
  • 12 small beech mushrooms
  • for the rosti:
  • 1 large potato (maris piper)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil for frying
  • for the creamed leeks:
  • 2 medium leeks
  • knob of butter
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 175ml cream
  • 1 tsp brandy
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • for the parsnip puree:
  • 200g parsnip
  • 75ml cream
  • 75ml vegetable stock
  • 10g butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • for the crispy vegetables:
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 1 small fresh beetroot
  • sunflower oil for deep frying
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • garnish:
  • a small selection of micro-green leaves or herbs available, earthy leaves where possible and not too piquant


  1. For the Quail:
  2. Remove the legs and the breasts from 2 of the quail. Cut the knuckle off the leg and pare back the meat a little to expose the bone. Season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of fresh grated nutmeg. Set aside for flavours to develop.
  3. 10 minutes before service add knob of butter and tblsp of olive oil to frying pan and leave until very hot
  4. Put breasts and legs in pan (breasts skin side down) and fry for 2 minutes. Turn breasts and continue to fry legs for another minute and then turn. After another minute remove breasts and leave legs to cook for one further moment and remove.
  5. Trim a little of the skin and leg meat to provide a base on which to stand the leg
  6. For the reduction:
  7. Chop the garlic clove in 2 and rub the bottom of a metal roasting dish with each half. Leave cloves in dish.
  8. Chop the carrots, half of the onion and the celery small and add to the roasting dish;
  9. Break up the 2 quail carcass and set flat on the bottom of the roasting tin; sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and add enough water to come half way up vegetables but cover carcass. Place in oven for 25mins
  10. Squash vegetables with potato masher to extract flavour and then strain through a fine sieve into a small saucepan and de-grease; add stock and boil rapidly for 10 minutes to reduce
  11. Add port and boil rapidly to reduce (5 minutes); season to taste
  12. Meanwhile remove stalks from mushrooms and pan fry the mushrooms in a knob of butter for 2 minutes and add to sauce.
  13. Add final knob of butter to sauce and stir through.
  14. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary
  15. For the creamed leeks:
  16. Finely chop leeks
  17. Heat oil and butter in frying pan in medium heat and add leeks and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes until soft
  18. Add the brandy and flambé (a match will be required as there is so little alcohol)
  19. Add cream and stir; Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm
  20. For the rosti:
  21. Using the finest grating blade on the mandolin, grate the potatoes long ways into long fine strips.
  22. Place the grated potato in a clean dish cloth and squeeze to remove access water and season with salt
  23. Pour 3 tblsp of olive oil into frying pan and place an 80mm cooking ring on the pan
  24. Drop the potato strips into the ring in a loose lattice and lightly press down
  25. When brown turn over to other side and brown
  26. Remove rosti and drain on kitchen paper. Set upright in warm location
  27. For the parsnip puree:
  28. Chop parsnip into small chunks and place in saucepan with stock and cream.
  29. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20mins
  30. Once parsnip is cooked, blitz in blender and add butter and season to taste.
  31. For the Crispy Vegetables:
  32. Peel carrot, courgette and beetroot. Using a potato peeler shave long slices from the carrot and courgette and discs from the beetroot. (do the beetroot separately to avoid colouring everything)
  33. Boil the carrot and courgette for 1 min and drain. Boil beetroot in same water for 1 minute and remove and drain
  34. Deep fry the vegetables for 1 to 2 minutes until brown and crispy
  35. Drain well and season
  36. Finish:
  37. Place an 80mm cooking ring on plate and spoon in leeks to about1.5cm deep (Use slotted spoon to lift leeks and let any excess cream drip out before bring to plate)
  38. Place a potato rosti on the leeks and 3 quail breasts in a neat pile on top
  39. Squeeze two separate tablespoons of parsnip puree on the plate and set a leg on each
  40. Pour the sauce neatly around the dish and drop in 5 or 6 of the mushrooms
  41. Neatly arrange the crispy vegetables on the dish
  42. Dress the quail legs with a few micro-leaves and set a few leaves around the plate

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