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Quail eggs, serrano ham & vegetables with saffron allioli
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2 small heads of fennel
2 heads of chicory, 1 red, 1 white
24 French Breakfast radishes
25g watercress or lambs lettuce
24 spears asparagus, trimmed
24 quail’s eggs
150g serrano ham or other cured Spanish ham
For the allioli
Juice 1 lemon, plus extra to taste
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Pinch of saffron strands
2 cloves garlic
2 Waitrose British Blacktail Medium Free Range Egg yolks
300ml extra virgin olive oil
1 To make the allioli, place 4 tsp of lemon juice and the vinegar in a bowl with the saffron and stir. Leave it to sit for 15 minutes. Put the garlic cloves on a chopping board, and, using a pinch of salt as an abrasive, crush them to a paste using the side of a cook’s knife.
2 Put the egg yolks and the garlic into a bowl. Whisk by hand or with an electric whisk, then slowly add the olive oil a drop at a time to begin with. As the mixture starts to thicken, you can increase the quantity you add. Gradually add the saffron mixture, then taste and season (the seasoning and how much lemon juice you use is really important – keep tasting and adjusting). If the mixture separates, just put a new yolk in another bowl, and start all over again, adding the curdled mixture to the fresh egg.
3 Quarter the fennel, removing the core and any tough outer leaves from each piece. Pour over the remaining lemon juice. Slice lengthways and divide between 8 plates. Put the chicory leaves and the radishes on the plates as well, plus a little clump of watercress or lambs lettuce.
4 Prepare the asparagus and eggs at the last minute if you can so they’re bright and fresh and your guests can have the sensation of both hot and cold elements. The asparagus needs to be steamed for about 4 minutes and the eggs should be hard-boiled in the same amount of time.
5 Leave the shell on some of the eggs, but peel others and cut them in half. The mixture of colours looks wonderful on the plate. Put the warm asparagus and a few slices of ham on the plates too and add a pool of the saffron allioli to each one. Serve with good bread.
Typical values per serving:
This recipe was first published in April 2018.