Chef's Recipes

Barbecued quail with pickled-grape salsa

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for barbecued quail with pickled-grape salsa by Joseph Abboud from Rumi, Melbourne.

By Joseph Abboud
  • Serves 4 - 6
  • 40 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking plus marinating
Barbecued quail with pickled-grape salsa
Barbecued quail with pickled-grape salsa

"In essence, barbecuing really is the oldest form of cooking known to man," says Abboud. "It predates pots and pans and is the most elementary yet incredibly satisfying of techniques. I highly recommend you cook these skewers over hot coals because the smokiness contributes an unmistakable flavour. At Rumi, we use a reconstituted coconut shell charcoal, and the quail, in its various incarnations, has become a bit of a signature. We use onion juice to tenderise and sweeten the meat - this is an Iranian marinating technique. This pickled-grape salsa is the creation of our head chef, Jenna Abbruzzese. She hit this one spot on." Begin this recipe a day ahead to marinate the quail.


  • 8 large quail (about 160gm each)
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1¼ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • To serve: fresh oregano
Pickled-grape salsa
  • 180 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 150 gm pickled grapes, coarsely chopped, plus 50ml pickling liquid (see note)
  • 2 golden shallots, finely diced
  • 50 ml lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped oregano


  • 1
    Remove the legs and breasts from the quail, (discard carcasses or use to make a stock) and set aside in a non-reactive container. Finely purée onion in a food processor, then strain through a muslin-lined sieve into a bowl. Gather up all corners of the muslin and gently squeeze onion to extract juice. Pour 25ml onion juice over quail (discard solids and remaining juice), add oil, turn quail to coat, scatter with dried oregano, season to taste and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
  • 2
    Thread quail onto metal skewers and refrigerate until required.
  • 3
    For pickled-grape salsa, mix ingredients well in a bowl to combine and emulsify, then season to taste and set aside.
  • 4
    Heat a coal barbecue to medium-high heat and grill quail, turning occasionally, until cooked through and golden brown (6-8 minutes). Scatter with fresh oregano and serve hot with pickled grape salsa.


Note Pickled grapes are available from Middle Eastern grocers.
Drink Suggestion: Lebanese arak or Turkish raki Drink suggestion by Joseph Abboud