Quails in Escabeche


Serves: 4

Preparation time: 45-60 min., plus 24 hours marination before serving

Codornices en Escabeche is the Spanish name for a traditional Catalan dish often used for tapas. In Catalan it is called Guatlles amb Vinagreta. Instead of quails, you can also use Rock Cornish hens (Poussins).

Escabeche is an age old technique used to preserve food. Fish, mussels, poultry or game are poached or fried in olive oil. Then they are marinated for at least 24 hours in garlic, herbs, and vinegar and served at room temperature.


2 quails per person, 1/2 Rock Cornish hen (Poussin) per person. Use a good quality wine vinegar so the delicate flavor of the meat will not be overpowered by the acidity of the marinade. The dish must be made a day ahead to give full effect to the escabeche marinade.

  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 quails or 2 Rock Cornish hens (Poussins)
  • flour for dusting
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1  cup finely diced carrot
  • 2 cups (450 g) mushrooms sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine
  • 4 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley


If you use Rock Cornish hens (Poussins) split them in half lengthwise. Dust the quails or Rock Cornish hens (Poussins) with flour. Shake off the excess. Set aside. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat and pan-fry the quails or Rock Cornish hens (Poussins) for about 10-15 minutes or until nicely brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and reserve. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and add them to the quails or Rock Cornish hens (Poussins).

Clean pan with a towel paper and add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and sauté carrots, onions, mushrooms and garlic for 2-3 minutes or when they begin to soften. Add the cloves, bay leaf, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Return quails or Rock Cornish hens (Poussins) to the pan and arrange them nicely so that they are snugly side by side. Add the wine, bring it to a quick boil for about 2-3 minutes. Add vinegar and water and again bring it to a rapid boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, taste for salt and pepper. Add the scallions. Remove the dish from the heat and let it marinate overnight in a cool place or the refrigerator. Baste it occasionally with the wine vinegar marinade.

Before serving warm the dish to room temperature and sprinkle it with the chopped parsley. As a main dish, you may serve it with boiled new potatoes.

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