October 14th, 2009


Venison and Butternut Squash Canapes with Fried Quails Eggs

This recipe is another Aldeburgh Food Festival inspired dish and utilises the leftovers from the venison mince that I bought that day. I love the Aldeburgh food festival as it has yet to become too commercialised. I can tell as the locals came very early on Saturday morning with their posh wicker baskets and jute shopping bags and they all left with these full of fantastic locally grown ingredients. I was a bit jealous as I had to drive quite a distance to attend and could not buy any fresh fish or seafood. I’m now thinking of renting a cottage next year so that I can go to the food festival, purchase the fresh produce , and do not have to rush back home. I tried to get a stand at the festival but as I do not live in Suffolk I could not get one, that’s very reassuring and a sign that I would not see a lone Spanish hombre trying to sell me his Spanish produced Chorizo and Manchego.

Aldeburgh is a beautiful place to visit and the surroundings at Snape Maltings, where the festival takes place each year, are just as beautiful. I love  one of shops with its unique items of kitchen ware, clothing, furniture and art. Aldeburgh itself  is a few miles down the road, and it boasts the best fish and chips shop in Suffolk, I cannot confirm this as I have yet to  visit the premises.

The butternut squash and venison both came from Suffolk, along with the pretty looking salad leaves.

It all makes a pretty picture and a lovely dish. I made these with a party in mind, however the party did not quite happen and we enjoyed them as a light weekend afternoon snack with a glass of wine, just as good!

I cut little round disks out of the butternut which gets griddled and the trimmings I grated into the mince mixture. The grated squash along with hydrated couscous mixed into the mince makes the patties lovely light and add that extra layer of flavour. Previously I have also used grated parsnip, celeriac, potato, celery, swede or carrot into my minced meat mixes, it’s makes a ragu particularly delicious and light.

I think that these little venison patties with the fried quails eggs would also make a pretty tasty breakfast/ brunch dish too.


  • 1 small butternut squash, the long solid bit is best otherwise known as the neck
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 200g venison mince
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • 2tbs mixed chopped herbs such as thyme, oregano, tarragon and parsley
  • 30g couscous
  • 40ml water
  • Salt and freshly cracked black
  • Pinch Ras el Hanout
  • ½ free range egg
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 12 quails eggs
  • Mixture of small salad leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C and heat a griddle pan on the cooker.

Mix the couscous with the water and let it hydrate completely.

Peel the butternut squash and cut 12 disks measuring 3cm diameter x 1/2 cm thick rounds. Brush them with the olive oil and season, then griddle them on both sides, place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, over roast until they are tender but still firm, cool the butternut squash disks once cooked.

In a large mixing bowl mix the venison mince with the egg, 50g grated butternut squash from the trimmings, ras-el-hanout, hydrated couscous, seasoning and the grated onion.

Make small 3cm in diameter patties about 12 weighing 25g each.

Heat a non-stick frying pan with a dash of oil and fry the patties until golden brown on both sides and cooked all the way through, if your not confident on cooking them on the cooker all the way then brown them on both sides and finish them in the preheated oven for 8 minutes.

Fry the quails eggs and cut them to the same size as the patties.

Assemble the canapes by placing a fried quails egg on top of each pattie and then place a pattie on top of the squash disk, garnish with a light dusting of ra-el-hanout and salad leaves.

Makes 12 canapes

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6 Comments to “Venison and Butternut Squash Canapes with Fried Quails Eggs”

  1. Clark says:

    Although I haven’t tried this recipe yet (which I’m looking forward to), I wanted to share my comments on Ras El Hanout, which I’ve used in other recipes.

    I love to blend my own small, fresh batches of Ras El Hanout. I base mine on the recipe at https://ayalasmellyblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/spicing-it-up-with-ras-el-hanout.html which I have found to be my favorite of several available online.

    I usually cut the recipe by 4 or 8 depending on how much I need. Also, I use 4 times as much lavender as called for, since the floral bouquet of Ras El Hanout is what, for me, makes it so special.

    My other substitutions include: a dash of rosewater instead of rose buds (easier to find), omitting ajowan (not fond of it—a thyme-like flavor, but slightly bitter by my tastes), and omitting ambrette (can’t find).

    If you do make a larger batch of it or purchase a quantity you don’t know what to do with, I use it in https://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/lamb_stew_with_almonds_and_apricots/ instead of the spices called for in the first half of the ingredient list.

  2. john hughes says:

    You can buy a pretty good ras al hanout in tesco now. It’s on the world food section, where they put stuff that they can’t work out where it should go. the smaller stores don’t stock it, but bigger ones do

  3. I love the thought of these – we can get good venison so just need to organise a party now as an excuse to serve them.

  4. Venison mince! That’s something I have never tried… interesting. And… are Spanish hombres really so ubiquitous in Britain? XD

  5. Eleanor says:

    Sounds good, but what is Ras el Hanout and where does one get it? Does it have a substitute?

    Although you only use ‘a pinch’, none the less this can make a flavour difference

    (You’ve probably talked about this before?)

  6. Madalene says:

    Ras-el-hanout is one of my all time favourite spice blends and I like the one that these guy’s produce and sell, I buy it form their stall at Borough Market London,
    Ras el hanout means “The grocer’s Top Shelf.” Spice merchants across North Africa and the middle east stake there reputation on their house blend and we follow suit. An amazing, complex blend of dry roasted aromatic spices!
    You can make your own blend however there are a few really good ones available on the market. You only need a tiny pinch to make a big flavour impact on your food.

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