Quail are small, but delicious mouthfuls. Here are two recipes for Roasted Quail from “Culinary Birds” by John Ash.
COFFEE-SPICE ROASTED QUAIL WITH A VANILLA SAUCE
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
12 bone-in quail
5 tablespoons (75mL) olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
12 black peppercorns
20 coriander seeds
3 whole cloves
2 juniper berries
½-inch (13-mm) piece cinnamon stick
1 small bay leaf
3 tablespoons freshly and very ﬁnely ground espresso
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
½ cup (43g) sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 cups (700mL) quail or chicken stock
1 cup (240mL) dry white wine
⅔ cup (160mL) heavy cream
1 (3-inch) vanilla bean, split
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
To make the rub, preheat the oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet, arrange in separate piles the sesame, peppercorns, coriander, cloves, juniper berries, and cinnamon and toast until the sesame seeds are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the spices from the oven, and with a spice grinder, ﬁnely grind the toasted spices along with the bay leaf. Add the coffee, salt, and sugar and continue grinding until the mixture is ﬁnely ground. Turn the oven up to 450°F.
Lightly rub the quail with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and then rub with the spice mixture. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the vanilla sauce. Sauté the shallots and mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of the butter until the vegetables are soft but not brown. Add the stock and wine and reduce by half over high heat, about 8 minutes. Add the cream and vanilla bean and reduce again to a light sauce consistency, about 8 minutes. Strain through a ﬁne-mesh strainer, pressing down on the solids. Scrape the soft center of the vanilla bean into the strained sauce and discard the bean. Adjust the seasonings with drops of lemon juice and salt and pepper. Whisk in the remaining butter in bits. Hold the sauce in a warm water bath or thermos until serving time (up to 3 hours).
Remove the quail from the refrigerator. In a large, heavy, ovenproof sauté pan, heat the remaining oil and brown the quail on all sides over moderate heat. Turn the quail breast side up and place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes to ﬁnish cooking. Test by inserting the point of a knife at the thigh joint. Juices should run clear and the leg should move easily. Serve 2 quail per person with sauce spooned around.
ROASTED QUAIL WITH WILD MUSHROOM STUFFING
The sauce can be made ahead of time, so this dish can be put together very quickly. We’re roasting the birds here, but they are also delicious ﬁnished over a wood-ﬁred grill.
MAKES 6 MAIN COURSE OR 12 APPETIZER SERVINGS
12 partially boned quail
6 tablespoons (80g) olive oil, divided
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
20 thin slices pancetta, divided
3 large shallots, thinly sliced (about ½ cup, 56g)
2 cups (172g) diced wild mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster, chanterelle)
⅓ cup (80 mL) dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (such as chives, basil, oregano)
¼ cup (60mL) good balsamic vinegar
2 cups (475mL) quail or canned or homemade chicken stock (see below)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cups (320g) lightly packed young spinach, stems removed
½ cup (120g) seeded and ﬁnely diced ripe tomato
Rub the skin of the quail with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Tuck the wings behind and lightly season inside and out with salt and pepper. Chop 8 slices of the pancetta and add to a sauté pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallots and mushrooms and sauté over medium-high heat until the shallots are very lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Stir in the herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Stuff the cavities of the quail with the mushroom mixture, tuck in the legs, and skewer shut if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining oil to a sauté pan over medium heat and lightly brown the quail, about 5 minutes. Wrap a slice of the remaining pancetta around each quail and roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until just done. Be careful not to overcook. While the quail are cooking, add the vinegar and stock to a small saucepan and reduce over high heat until thickened to a light sauce consistency, about 5 minutes. Whisk in any pan juices from the cooked quail and keep warm.
Add the butter to a hot sauté pan and allow it to just begin to brown. Add the spinach, stir-fry quickly just to wilt, and mound in the center of warm plates. Top with the quail, stir the tomato into the sauce, and spoon the sauce over and around the quail just before serving.
Printed with permission from Running Press Book Publishers
CULINARY BIRDS by John Ash
Running Press 2013