California Central Coast Recipes
Braised Quail Hunter Style
Braised Quail Hunter Style is a real show-stopper when you want to serve something very special and elegant. We especially love to serve this on grilled polenta--very showy indeed! --And Oh! so good! If you're lucky enough to have a hunter-friend that goes quail-hunting, and gives you a few of the catch, you might be able to make it with fresh quail. But otherwise, there are a few good American companies that clean then fast-freeze their farmed-quail. All you have to do is to defrost it and braise it gently in wine.
Traditionally the little birds are roasted individually wrapped in pancetta. We prefer to marinate overnight, brown the quail then slowly braise the quail in wine, diced pancetta with a little bit of apple wood smoked bacon and shallot as a base. The smoked bacon gives the recipe a little bit of a campfire aroma in tribute to our hunters -even if they "bagged" little birds at the local supermarket!
One little extra thing we like to do is to truss the quail by tying the legs together and pinning the wings to the sides with tooth picks. It helps to brown the birds, and makes a much nicer presentation - there is something kind of forlorn looking about a little bird lying stretched out in "rigor mortis" on a plate! We like the little "chicken look" much better, and so will your more squeamish dinner guests.
Preparation time: 4 hours Cooking time: 30 minutes
1-1/2 cup Dry White Wine
8 to 10 Fresh Sage Leaves
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary -preferably Tuscan
1/2 teaspoons Cracked Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 oz Pancetta diced
1 oz Apple Wood Smoked Bacon diced
1/4 cup Shallot chopped
Basic Polenta Loaf
1 Truss the quail by tying the legs together then pinning the legs and wings to the sides with tooth picks. Place the quail, wine, rosemary, sage and pepper together and marinate at least 4 hours, preferable overnight.
2 When ready to cook, place a heavy pan with lid large enough to hold all the quail, over medium high heat. Add the oil, pancetta and bacon and saute for a few minutes to render the fat and crisp up the pancetta and bacon.
3 Remove the quail from the marinate, and reserve the marinade. Add the quail to the pan and brown all over. If using, remove the tooth picks as you brown the quail so they can brown on all sides.
4 Add the reserved marinade and spices to the pan and bring to a low simmer. Cover and simmer, adding a little extra wine if need, for 30 minutes or until the quail are cooked.
5 While the quail are cooking, slice the polenta into 1/2 inch thick slices. Brush the top of the polenta with a little olive oil and grill under a broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown. You do not need to grill both sides.
6 When the quail are done, remove the quail to a warm plate and reduce the remaining liquid to a sauce. To serve place the quail on the grilled polenta and pour a bit of the reduce sauce over the quail and polenta.
Like all of our hunter style dishes, choose a robust red. This is a great dish to serve a good Nebbiolo with.