6 Plump young quails
6 Big flat mushrooms; plus...6 oz Mushrooms for the stuffing
6 oz Butter
3 Garlic cloves (or more)
To make the duxelles, first chop the 6 oz mushrooms plus the stalks from the big flat mushrooms on which you will sit the quails. Chop finely, using a knife, not a food processor. Mix in 1 very finely chopped garlic clove, about 9 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 3 tablespoons snipped chives and 1 heaped tablespoon fresh tarragon (or a generous 1 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon if fresh is not available). Cook the mixture in a little butter over moderate heat for 3 minutes or so, stirring often. Season well with salt, pepper and about 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Let the duxelles cool before using it to stuff the birds. Spread it gently between the flesh and the skin, all over the breast area, to plump up the quails prettily. Secure the flap of neck skin under each bird with a
wooden toothpick. If the skin is torn, put the stuffing into the body
cavities instead. Tie up the legs of each bird to keep it neatly shaped.
Make about 5 oz garlic butter and reserve it. Choose a roasting tin or
baking dish just large enough to take the 6 flat mushrooms side by side.
When ready to cook, melt a nugget of the garlic butter in the roasting tin.
Turn the birds in it to coat them with fat, then arrange them, breast down,
on a rack suspended across the roasting tin. Bake at 425 F (220 C) gas mark 7 for 15 minutes. Put the mushrooms in the tin, arranging them gill side up, and dot them with the rest of the garlic butter. Put the rack of quails back on top of the tin and turn the birds breast side up. Position the birds carefully, placing each one above a mushroom so that the meat juices will drip on to the mushrooms during cooking. Bake for 20 minutes or so until the birds and mushrooms are perfectly cooked. Sit the birds on the mushrooms and serve straight away, or cover and keep hot at 250 F (120 C) gas mark 1/2 until ready to serve. Rice, couscous or burghul, and crisp peppery watercress go well with this dish.