1. For the quail: Spatchcock the quail by removing the wingtips with a sharp knife. Cut through the spine on either side to remove, being careful not to cut into the breast meat. Press the bird flat with the palm of your hand, or ask your butcher to do this for you. Combine the Szechuan pepper with the salt in a bowl.
2. For the blueberry caramel: Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring, until syrup is a golden toffee colour. Remove from heat, and add vinegar (be careful, as it will spit). Add the blueberries and allow them to steep. Set aside to cool.
3. For the beluga lentils: Heat butter and oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add onion and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft but not coloured. Add the thyme and the lentils, continue sweating until the thyme is fragrant. Add chicken stock. Cook lentils for approximately 35 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed. Add vinegar and soy sauce. Season generously with pepper, and gently with salt.
4. For the charred blueberry: Heat your barbeque or char-grill on a medium-high heat, cook for 5 minutes. Set aside.
5. Heat your char-grill to medium-high. Season quail generously with Szechuan pepper mix and grill skin side down for 3-4 minutes. Turn and brush with the blueberry caramel, cook for one more minute and then rest. Brush again with the warm glaze.
6. To serve: Plate a small mound of warm lentils on a plate with baby spinach leaves and charred blueberry. Place quail on top, drizzle with a little more caramel, garnish with micro herbs and serve.
Note: Quails are now readily available at most supermarkets. Look for plump birds with a little covering of fat beneath the breast.
Keith Tulloch Vanguard Shiraz 2018