Quail with carrot hearts and red miso
This month's guest chef is the Australian Mark Best from Marque Restaurant in Sydney. Mark is one of the world's most prominent chefs and he has a very unusual and instantly recognisable style. He started his career about as far from the kitchen as it's possible to get - he was originally an electrician working in a mine. Later he met the woman who would become his wife and decided to change careers entirely and begin a café. He gained his experience in various restaurants and travelled to France, where he ate at L'Arpége and later trained there. He also worked as the sous-chef at Quay Restaurant in Sydney. In 1999, Mark and his wife opened Marque Restaurant in Sydney. Since its opening, the restaurant has become renowned for its innovative approach to food. Mark's creations appear minimalist, but a second glance reveals how spectacular they truly are! The techniques he uses are simple and focus on utilising the entire product. In his kitchen, he gives simple ingredients centre stage, using them in perfect combinations and creating dishes that 'seem like they're found in nature'. French cuisine is the basis for his cooking, combined with modern Australian cuisine.
The quail is steamed and 'lacquered,' reminiscent of Peking duck. The garnish is an ordinary commodity carrot. We just pull out the heart and cook it in its own juice. Mark loves the form of the heart, with its cacti-like spikes. The sauce is again carrot, with red miso. This dish very much represents Mark’s style of using simple ingredients and elevating them.
Creation by Mark Best, Marque Restaurant, Sydney, Australia.
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Preparation method: quail
- Separate the quail into legs (with thighs), crown, and wings.
- Dissolve the salt and sugar into the water.
- Brine the quail for 3 hours, remove, and place on a wire rack.
- Leave in the fridge overnight for skin to dry. Steam the birds at 58°C. After 35 minutes, remove the crowns. Increase the temperature to 75°C and cook the legs for another 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
- In a hot pan, make a dry caramel with sugar. Once it is frothing and dark, remove from heat and carefully add in the sherry vinegar. Whisk to combine, placing back on a gentle heat if required. Allow to cool.
- Once the gastrique has cooled, brush over the skin of the quail. Ensure the skin is evenly coated. Before serving, fry the birds at 210°C until golden. Carve the breasts from the bone.
Preparation method: carrot hearts
- Blanch the carrots in salted boiling water for 5 minutes and refresh in ice water.
- Score along the length of the carrot and snap off the outer shell, preserving the inner core, or ‘heart’. Keep the outer shell of the carrot for carrot and miso sauce.
- In a frying pan, heat the reserved liquid from the carrot juice (below). Add in the carrot hearts and cook until tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze.
Preparation method: carrot and miso sauce
- Juice the carrot trimmings and pass through a fine chinoise. Transfer the juice to a pot. As the carrot juice heats, the carotene will separate. Skim off the carotene and reserve. As the juice reduces, keep all the skimmings. The juice will eventually become clear and the sediment will form an off-yellow colour. Reserve this liquid to cook the carrot hearts.
- Using a hand blender, combine the carrot skimmings and miso paste. Blend in xanthan gum to thicken slightly. Season with sea salt.