Tiborna de Codorniz espalhada apimentado em cima de torrada saboroso Portuguese-style devilled spatchcock

What better way to kick off our Medieval festival? A piece of exemplary quail atop a piece of toast slathered with a piquant tomato sauce, that for me is what I call dinner.Simplicity, straightforwardness and good, honest cooking is where it’s at. Portuguese food sometimes gets a bad rap from euro critics, the likes of Giles Coren or the late AA Gill.My very own brother is not to be let off the hook here either. On a recent trip to Porto he claimed that "Portugal is not renowned for its gastronomy."My reply to all of them would be that they had chosen the wrong restaurant.Unprepossessing it maybe,basic perhaps and definitely conformist, but I have to say some of my greatest dining experiences have been since living in Portugal, particularly on a visit to Porto.

When Portugal finally shuffles off this mortal coil,one would hope, at the very least,to go out with a certain degree of style and grace and dignity.
 I thought I would put this theory to the home test.I’ve borrowed two ideas for today’s dish.Both cooking and eating it transported me just a fraction closer to the kitchen of a Portuguese avõ.

 We have a glut of basil in the garden at the moment, and so I turned to a saved Jamie Oliver tear sheet, from a back in the day Olive magazine summer supplement, to apply a true "root to stem" principle.A pungent tomato salsa freshly made,rustic looking and brimming with earthy charm made more than worthy use of both basil leaves and stalks.Two spatchcocked quails from the butcher,a loaf of  "grandmother´s" bread and dinner was ready to rock.
That this was all to be served up on toast, plain ol’ toast, like you would with beans, eggs or sardines, seemed at first to be the last humiliation for this noble bird; a final injustice. But of course, the toast was the best element, growing soggy under the weight, soaking up all the juice from the sauce; becoming perfect for mopping the plate with a fork.
Finger-lickin´good,suitably messy and definitely a no for those hoity toity people who try to tackle a prawn with a knife and fork.Tackle the birds first,wipe your chin with nice napkins,then sink your teeth into the bread and its salsa A culinary revelation,simply produced and Portuguese inspired.
Devilled quail,Portuguese style

2 quail, spatchcocked from the butcher

1/3 cup olive oil
2 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 spatchcocks, halved, washed, dried
Fresh oregano leaves, extra, to serve

Marinade the spatchcocks in the marinade for at least  three hours or ideally overnight.
Place on a wire rack over a roasting tray and grill skin side up for seven to eight minutes basting once with the marinade.Turn and grill them bony sides up for a further five minutes.Toast slices of rustic artisan bread and then drizzle them with olive oil and rub the edgers with garlic as you would bruschetta.Spread a spoonful of the salsa over the toast and place the spatchcocks split in half lengthways on top.Garnish with some fresh basil or parsley

Salsa Rossa
(feel free to amp up the number of chillies if you want to spice it up)
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil
bunch of fresh basil stalks,chopped
800g of tomate chucha (plum tomatoes),skinned and deseeded
1 red pepper 
2 large fat red chillies 
Fry the garlic in olive oil until golden.Add the basil stalks,stir once and then add the tomatoes and a pinch of flor de sal.
cook gently for an hour or so to let the sauce thicken and the flavours concentrate
meanwhile,toast the red pepper and chillies under a hot grill or even better on your barbie,turning now and then until they blacken and blister evenly all over.Place in a bowl and cover tightly with clingfilm.After half an hour,unwrap and carefully peel away the skins.remove the seeds and chop the flesh into small pieces.When the sauce has concentrated and thickened,take it off the heat and add the chopped pepper and chilli.Season the salsa well with salt and pepper and stir in torn up basil leaves and a couple of glugs of your best olive oil.


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