November 26th, 2009


Pear, Quail, Walnut and Stilton Salad

Well what can I say, Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnuts, the height of food fashion in the 60′s and 70′s. I deliberately pushed myself (or  alternatively tried to antagonise myself)  in using these three ingredients with chicory to recreate the old classic. Well it was a 50/50  chance for me to get it either horribly wrong or perfectly right. Well I shall let you be the judge of that. As I set myself this challenge to use this very ordinary and old fashioned ingredient combination I thought I should then test myself to be as culinary and technically creative as my ability allows.

I had heaps of fun at first  thinking about it and then secondly creating it, even though it took me three days to prepare and get my ideas and ingredients in order but I was pretty pleased with the end result. I still cannot make my mind up if this should be a starter or a main course, there are lots going on but it is still incredibly light.

The aspect I’m the most pleased with is the quail sausage but there are in total 6 different parts or sub recipes to create this one dish so it’s definitely not for the faint hearted. If you  have a go at this dish and only recreate a few of the parts then I will be pretty pleased.

My hero ingredient is the pear and after all it was the pear that lead me to this classic combination. I was reading up about pears and found an article that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall had written in which he had bad mouthed this combination, so I thought why not take on the challenge.

As I feel strongly about British produce and try to inspire and encourage cooks to use the produce when in season I make it my business to find out more about the source. Brogdale Farm, which is owned by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is home to the National Fruit Collection, which includes over 3500 named Pear, Apple, Plum, Cherry, Bush Fruit, Vine and Cob Nut cultivars. To visit the site is a humbling experience and the work that they do is incredibly important to Britain as they are working to protect and prevent old varieties from dying out. This should ensure the future heritage  of the humble pear.


This dish is one of four recipes using British Pears as the chosen seasonal ingredient for an article published in the Caterer and Hotelkeeper Magazine on the 16th October 2009.

Blue cheese Gnocchi

  • 250g Desiree potatoes, peeled
  • 50g strong flour
  • 30g semolina + extra for dusting
  • 75g crumbed mature Stilton cheese
  • 1 small free-range egg
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 100°C.

Peel and roughly dice the potatoes. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, drain the potatoes, lay them on a oven tray and dry the potatoes in the preheated oven for 10 – 20 minutes to remove any excess water.

Place the flour and semolina in the thermomix and blend for 30 seconds on speed 10.

While the potatoes are still warm pass the potatoes through a food mill with the crumbed Stilton, milled flour and seasoning. Mix in the egg and rest the gnocchi mixture in the fridge for 1 hour.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

Lightly dust a clean work surface with semolina, divide the gnocchi mixture in to 6 even size balls, then roll each ball into thin long sausages with the diameter of 20 pence piece, cut each piece in 1.5cm long pillows, use a fork and mark the one side of the gnocchi.

Blanch the gnocchi in salted rapid boiling water for 2 minutes, or until they float, transfer them with a slotted spoon to an ice water bath to cool them rapidly.

Drain the gnocchi and toss with olive oil, keep them refrigerated until needed.

Quail Sausage

  • 4 quails legs
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 60g chicken breast meat
  • 70ml double cream
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1tbs chopped watercress
  • 50g morel mushrooms
  • 1tsp unsalted butter
  • 6 slices of pancetta
  • Few drops of fresh lemon juice

Preheat the water bath to 68°C.

Season the quail’s legs with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Place the quail’s legs in a vacuum bag with the slices of lemon and sprig of thyme. Seal on hard vacuum.

Cook for 50 minutes in the preheated water bath. Once cooked, cool in ice water.

Flake the quail leg meat from the bones and remove the skin.

Sauté the morel mushroom in the teaspoon of butter until golden, drain on kitchen paper and rough chop the mushrooms.

Place the chicken breast meat in the thermomix bowl, blend for 30 seconds on speed 10, scrape the sides down and repeat the process until the chicken meat is smooth. Pass the chicken puree through a fine sieve to remove the connective tissue.

Transfer the chicken puree to a small bowl, season and then whip in the cream bits at a time. Do not overwork the mousse.

Fold the flaked quail meat, chopped watercress and chopped sautéed morel mushrooms into the chicken mousse and season to taste. Transfer the mixture to a disposable piping bag.

Lay a double layer of clingfilm on the work surface.

Cut the pancetta slices in half and lay the pancetta slices onto the clingfilm to form a long rectangle.

Cut the piping bag, make a large opening about the size of 20pence size, and pipe the mixture onto the pancetta slices. Roll the pancetta up to form a sausage with the help of the clingfilm.

Secure the openings of the clingfilm.

Poach the sausage in the preheated water bath at 68°C for 20 minutes and cool the sausages over ice. Reshape and roll the sausage up in clean clingfilm once chilled to secure the round shape.

Place in the fridge to set.

Quail Breast

  • 2 small quails, crowns only
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 2 sprigs of thyme

Preheat the water bath to 68°C.

Clean the quails and pat them dry with kitchen paper.

Heat a non-stick frying pan; Season the quail crowns and sauté in the warm pan with the butter until golden brown all over.

Place the browned quail crowns in two separate small vacuum bags with one slice of lemon and one sprig of thyme per bag. Seal on hard vacuum and cook the quail crowns for 20 minutes in the preheated water bath.

Chill the quail crowns in ice water, until completely cold.

Once chilled remove the crowns from the bags, remove the breast from the carcass, drain on kitchen paper, and set aside till ready to serve.

Pickled Walnut Salt Encrusted Quails Eggs

  • 4 quails eggs
  • 1 pickled walnut, drained
  • 1tbs Maldon Sea salt

Bring a small saucepan with water to the boil, add the quails eggs and soft boil for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, cool and peel the eggs.

Finely chop the pickled walnut, lay the chopped walnut on a tray and let it dry out. Add the salt and then return the dried chopped walnut and salt to the chopping board and chop until very fine.

Roll each quails egg in the pickled walnut salt, set aside.

Pear Jelly

  • 1 ripe conference pear
  • 200ml water
  • 1.4g agar agar

Peel, core and slice the pear.

Place the sliced pears and water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes.

Puree the boiled pears including the water.

Return the pear puree to the heat whisk in the agar agar and bring the puree to the boil for 1 minute.

Pour the hot pear jelly in the container, leave to set at room temperature, and do not move the container before the jelly is set, as any agitation will prevent the jelly from setting.

Sautéed Honey Pears

  • 1 firm conference pear
  • 1tsp Rowse Scottish heather honey
  • 1tsp unsalted butter

Peel, core and quarter the pear.

Cut each quarter into 5 and place the pears in a vacuum bag.

Add the honey and seal on hard vacuum; let the pears macerate over night.

Open the pouch and drain the pears.

Heat a small non-stick frying pan with the butter, once the butter starts to foam add the pears and sauté until golden brown, drain on kitchen paper.

Assembly of the dish

  • 4 prepared quails breast
  • 1tbs unsalted butter
  • 12 slices of the quail and pancetta sausage
  • 20 pieces of the honey pears
  • 4 pickled walnut and salt encrusted quails eggs
  • Mixture of red and white chicory and watercress salad
  • 20 Stilton gnocchi pillows
  • 32 pieces of pear jelly cut in 5mm x 5mm size dice

Heat a non-stick frying pan and sauté the gnocchi until golden in a portion of the butter and drain on kitchen paper.

Sautee the sausage slices until golden on both sides and drain on kitchen paper.

Sauté the quail breast for two minute on the skin side.

Arrange the Quail sausage slices, sautéed honey pears, gnocchi, jelly, quails egg and mixture of salad leaves. Slice the quail’s breast in three and place in position on the plate.

Serves 4

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7 Comments to “Pear, Quail, Walnut and Stilton Salad”

  1. Lizzie says:

    Wowee wowza – now that’s what you call involved!

  2. Maddy, do you have a Thermomix method to make gnocchi dough? It’s in the Italian TM cookbook, but sadly I can’t read Italian. Thank you in advance!

  3. Madalene says:

    Hi Janie,
    Thank you for your comment and inquiry on the British Larder. Unfortunately I do not have a thermomix gnocchi recipe however we have another interesting Celeriac gnocchi recipe on our site. It’s delicious and if you get the chance to make it and use your thermomix please send us the method and we shall update the recipe for thermomix users.
    Happy cooking,

  4. [...] Pear, Quail, Walnut and Stilton Salad Recipe by Madalene Bonvini … [...]

  5. Barry says:

    Thanks for that… especially for us guys that cant get round to reading all the top recipes around… gonna use it as a an H.D.O. scaled down of course… problem will be watching to see if the cooks keep the standards set with all the elements involved… interesting and I envisage a few more grey hairs on this one.

  6. Alex says:

    beautiful salad, and your right not for the faint of heart. As for the jelly never seen that low a percentage used in a set jelly (0.7%) how challenging is it to handle once set, a variation on this could be to use 0.19% xanthan and 1.1% agar, follow the recipe blending ingredients in as described then setting the jelly and blending until smooth to creat a fluid gel which could almost double up as a ‘dressing’, if the gel is too cloudy after blending, the air can be removed in a tray in a chamber vacuum machine.

    again lovely dish though, just off to order my quails! nice to see you advocating Brogdale also the guys there are doing fantastic work and nice to see that even tesco have taken note of this.

  7. chriesi says:

    wow! Stunning! It is not a salad, but a poem!

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