Showing posts with label quail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quail. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Grilled Quail with Savory Cherry-Zinfandel Compote and Kohlrabi, Fennel, and Bing Cherry Salad

Can we talk cherries? I go a little bonkers for them every year. Last year, it was Cherry Lambic Crisps and White Chocolate-Cherry Ice Cream and Cherry Sorbet Sandwiches. The year before, I couldn't get enough of Pickled Cherries. So, when Whole Foods asked if I'd like to help celebrate Cherry Fest by coming in for more fresh, lovely cherries and planning a special menu around them, it was an invitation to a kid into the proverbial candy store. Cherry Fest is taking place at all Austin Whole Foods stores this weekend, Friday through Sunday, with special events from 12pm until 5pm. On Friday, there will be a one-day sale on cherries. For a cherry-themed meal, I imagined quail would pair well with the fruit, and I set about hunting for sauce ideas. In Sunday Suppers at Lucques, there's a Savory Cherry Compote served with duck confit which I thought would work just as nicely with grilled quail. With the main dish decided, I started a search for a salad with cherries. Girl in the Kitchen had just what I'd hoped to find. It's a raw, crunchy mix of thinly sliced kohlrabi and fennel with fresh cherries, and it's made tangy and bright with chopped preserved lemon and fresh mint. 

I couldn't help making a few minor changes to the cherry sauce. Rather than making it with port, I opted for a Zinfandel on the fruitier side. Also, to keep this sauce firmly in the savory category, I added some minced shallot to the ingredients that simmered with the cherries. So first, spices and herbs were gathered in a cheesecloth bundle, and those included thyme, bay leaves, chiles de arbol, star anise, a cinnamon stick, and black peppercorns. A quarter cup of sugar was melted in one cup of water in a saucepan, that was brought to a boil, and then a half cup of Zinfandel, juice from two oranges, and the spice sachet were added. I added minced shallot at that point as well. The heat was reduced to a simmer, and one third pound of stemmed and pitted cherries was added and poached for about ten minutes. At that point, the sauce was strained into a heat-proof measuring pitcher to remove the cherries and sachet. The strained sauce was returned to the saucepan, and cooked until reduced by two-thirds. It was strained again, seasoned with salt and pepper, and just before serving, a tablespoon of butter was swirled into the sauce and the cherries were returned to the pan. I used semi-boneless quail which were cut in half, and I removed the wing tips. I marinated the halved quail in a mix of olive oil, minced garlic, sliced serrano chiles, chopped sage, oregano, and rosemary. Grilling the quail happens quickly. They only need a few minutes on each side over high heat on the grill. Then, I moved them to a cooler spot on the grill and basted them with some of the sauce. The grilled quail was served with more sauce including the cherries. The sauce is full of big, fruity, spicy flavors, but once it coated the quail, it seemed more subtle, like that was exactly where it belonged.  

The salad is a very quick preparation. Trimmed kohlrabi and fennel bulbs were cut in half lengthwise, and then thinly sliced on a mandoline. Cherries were pitted and sliced in half. Everything was combined in a large bowl, drizzled with olive oil, finely chopped preserved lemon was added, and it was seasoned with salt and pepper. You should taste before adding salt since the lemon adds a good bit of saltiness of its own. After tossing to mix well, chopped, fresh mint was sprinkled on top. It's a simple mix of well-coordinated flavors. Fruity sweetness, acidity, herbiness, and the floral anise of fennel were delightful in this cool, crisp salad. 

A dessert with cherries was easy to choose, and of course, I'm not done with cherries for this year. I've been having them for breakfast with Greek yogurt and homemade granola, and I still need to stock the freezer with a few bags after more have been pitted. And, more ideas for using cherries keep catching my eye: 

Cherry Tartlets 
Cherry Prosecco Granita 
Cherry and Rosemary Focaccia 

I received a $150 gift card from Whole Foods. I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Marinated Grilled Quail

When we were in Scottsdale in September, we visited the Heard Museum which prides itself on an accurate display of arts and cultures of Native peoples, especially those from the Southwest US. The collections include Southwest American Indian cultural art, fine art, and contemporary pieces in addition to beautiful jewelry, textiles, baskets, ceramics, and beadwork. After exploring the museum, I somehow landed in front of the book shelf in the gift shop, and that's where I found the James Beard Foundation award-winning book Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations by Lois Ellen Frank. This informative book tells of food traditions that continue today, the seasonality of the food, and the sustainable ways in which food has always been hunted and gathered by Native peoples. The recipes range from very traditional ones such as piki bread, which a young woman must master before being considered a suitable bride, to the more modern pumpkin corn soup with ginger-lime cream and blue corn gnocchi with guajillo chile sauce. The 100 plus dishes in the book have all been adapted to current tastes and modern kitchen equipment. There's an entire chapter devoted to chiles which I'll be turning to frequently. It includes fresh green chile soup with tumbleweed greens, chile turnovers, and red and green chile sauces. With chiles in mind, I had to try the marinated grilled quail which was served with a dried chile and honey glaze.

I really like quail and usually order it when it's featured on a restaurant menu, but for whatever reason, I had never before cooked quail at home. We always have fresh, local quail ready and waiting at Whole Foods, and I finally bought some. The quail were washed, patted dry, and their tiny, little wings were removed. The wings went into the freezer for stock some other day. Then, the quail were marinated in a mixture of chopped sage, parsley, rosemary, chipotle chile powder, chopped fresh serrano chile, olive oil, minced garlic, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. They sat in the marinade in the refrigerator for several hours. Then, the glaze was made from rehydrated, dried New Mexico chiles, and I added a dried cascabel just because I had it. The softened chiles were pureed in the blender with some of their soaking water and honey, and then the puree was passed through a sieve. The quail were cooked on the grill for about five minutes per side, and then I spooned some of the glaze over them and let them grill for another minute per side. I sauteed CSA zucchini, corn, and green beans for a side dish, and the quail were served split in half with more glaze drizzled over top.

If you haven't had quail, it's mild for a game bird, and you definitely don't want to overcook it. Five minutes per side of grilling was just right for these birds, but any smaller and the time should be reduced. The searing heat of the grill crisped the skin, and the marinade left the meat flavorful and tender. I especially liked the glaze with its earthy chile heat tempered by the honey. Next from the book, I want to try the spicy pinto bean ravioli or maybe Indian tacos with frybread.

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