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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Braised Quail stuffed with Fresh Figs

I must have a thing with quail and figs, because this is only the second time of my entire life that I make quail, and the first time I used figs as well.. but dried ones.  This time, I am lucky enough to have been offered fresh juicy ripe ones from a friend's tree.  There are people in my life than just know how to make me melt....
Figs make sense in many ways.. but it just seems like the right thing to do when you need to use up some quail.
By the way.. I never thought I'd one day say that "I need to use up some quail."
But thus is life in France =)
Serves 4
4-5 whole quail
6 large fresh figs, cut into quarters
1 tsp black pepper
3 green cardamom pods, dry roasted and ground
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
few pinches fleur de sel
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
few splashes white wine for deglazing
1/4 cup water
Plate garnish:
batavia or romaine lettuce leaves.. or even arugula (I would have preferred arugula, actually)
cooked bulgur or rice if GF
1.  Make a sauce by mixing the balsamic vinegar, black pepper, ground cardamom, and a pinch of fleur de sel together.  It should be slightly liquid or syrupy, but not pasty.
2.  Dip the fig quarters into the mixture, then stuff into the cavity of your quails.  I used about 1 fig per quail.  They were ripe to perfection, so it was messy.. but that's what I wanted...
3.  Close the cavity of the quail.  If you're any good at trussing with string, go right ahead.  I have no skills in this department, so I used a few toothpicks.. just to make sure the stuffing didn't come out.  I didn't tie the legs or anything like a pro.
4.  Sprinkle a bit of fleur de sel and thyme on the stuffed quail, then rub them with the remaining mixture.
5.  In a sautée pan, heat the oil and place the quail inside.  You want them to get a nice color on all sides.  Do this for a while, then remove the quail and set aside.
6.  In that same pan, heat and add the sliced shallots.  Get them a nice color (around 5 minutes) and deglaze with some white wine if they start to stick.
7.  Add the quail back into the pan with the shallots.  Add the water, then turn heat to medium low and cover.  Let cook for about 10 -15 minutes. in this way.
Serve with some salad and bulgur as I did, and make sure to dress your plate with the remaining dipped fig quarters.
Oh.. and that lovely resulting sauce from the quail cooking should be spooned over your bulgur or rice.. that's an Order!!

This is probably the best cooking method for quail, for the meat stays moist as it cooks in a humid environment and is infused with the natural fig juices.  The sauce that comes from this has so much flavor you can't quite make out what's happening in your life.  The cardamom is subtle, but is definitely there.. and the addition of fresh fig quarters give an explosion of fresh sweet which is a perfect contrast to the gamey meat.
The only downside is having to pick through all those little bones.  Please eat with your hands.. don't kill the experience by using a fork and knife.
God gave you fingers and you should be licking them...
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