Okay, so you want to impress someone? Start here. Quail are slow-smoked, then half of the meat is mixed into a mousse with foie gras, and the other half is sliced into thin strips. Reassembled over mounds of the mousse, the quail meat appears braided. Warm kumquat sauce accompanies the quail.
- Quail - four, 4-ounce
- Salt - 2 tablespoons
- Sugar - 2 tablespoons
- Foie Gras - 4 ounces
- Heavy (Whipping) Cream - 4 ounces (1/2 cup)
- Madeira or Dry Sherry - 1 teaspoon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Kumquat Relish - (recipe follows)
- Kumquat Relish
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Kumquats - 8, thinly sliced
- Champagne Vinegar - 1 tablespoon
- Dry Vermouth - 1 tablespoon
Rub the quail with a mixture of salt and sugar and let stand for 20 minutes. Light a grill and prepare for smoking, moving the coals to one side on the fire grate when they are hot. Put 4 applewood chips which have been soaked in water for 30 minutes on the fire. Put the cooking grill in place above the fire. Put the quail on the grill on the side away from the fire and cover the grill, leaving smoke holes open. Slow-smoke over low coals for one hour.
Remove the skin from two of the quail, then gently remove the meat from the bones. Finely chop or grind the meat and set aside. Press the foie gras through a fine-meshed sieve and combine with the cream and Madeira. Fold in the chopped quail meat. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate.
To serve: Slice the meat off the remaining quail breasts and cut each side into 7 slices. Set aside. Remove the bones from the carcass and re-form the breast shape using the foie gras mousse. Cover with the reserved breast slices, overlapping them at an angle; the breast should take on the appearance of being braided. Arrange the quail on plates and surround with kumquat sauce.
Place the sugar in a saute pan or skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Stir to caramelize slowly and evenly. When the sugar turns golden brown, add the kumquats, vinegar, and vermouth. Cook until the sugar is melted and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.