Pan-roasted Quail with Port Sauce
Game birds, especially quail, take well to a bit of sweetness in their preparation, and this easy-to-make dish is a stellar example. The quail derive flavor from the port and maple in the marinade, and the heady port is the dominant flavor in the stock-reduction sauce. Serve this dish with Vegetable Couscous with Foie Gras (below) and baby vegetables such as asparagus tips, tiny carrots, and pearl onions.
- Fresh Boned Quail - 8
- Dry Red Wine - 1/2 cup
- Good Quality Port - 1/4 cup, preferably not too sweet
- Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- Balsamic Vinegar - 2 tablespoons
- Maple Syrup - 2 tablespoons
- Low-salt Soy Sauce - 2 tablespoons
- Bay Leaves - 2
- Garlic Cloves - 2, crushed
- Fresh thyme sprigs - 4
- Juniper berries - 1/2 teaspoon, crushed, or 2 tablespoons gin
- Port Sauce
- Quail, chicken, or duck bones, necks, and wing tips - 2 pounds
- Carrots - 2, peeled and coarsely chopped
- Onion - 1, diced
- Celery Stalks - 3, chopped
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Dried Thyme - 1/2 teaspoon
- Garlic Clove - 1, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Water - 3 quarts
- Rich Veal or Beef Stock - 1/2 cup
- Port - 1 cup
- Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Port - 2 tablespoons
- Vegetable Couscous (Serves 4)
- Quick-Cooking Couscous - 1 package
- Unsalted Butter - 4 tablespoons
- Carrot - 1, peeled and finely diced
- Leek - 1, white part only, finely sliced
- Pate de foie gras - 4 ounces
- Cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon, ground
- Cumin Seed - 1/4 teaspoon, ground
- Fresh Cilantro - 1/2 cup, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Water - 1/2 cup
Rinse the quail under cold running water. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large non-aluminum bowl and whisk well. Add the quail and make sure some of the marinade enters the cavities. Marinate the quail for 2 hours at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
To make the port sauce: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine the bones, necks, and wing tips with the carrots, onion, celery, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, and seasonings in a roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the meat and vegetables are well browned. Transfer the bones and vegetables to a stockpot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, add the stock and port, reduce heat to simmer again, and cook until the liquid is reduced by 1-1/2 cups. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve. Set aside and keep warm.
Place the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet and place over high heat. Drain the quail of excess marinade and pat them dry with paper towels. Add the birds to the hot pan and cook until they are a deep mahogany in color, about 6 to 8 minutes, turning with tongs to brown them evenly on all sides. Remove the quail from the skillet, place them in a roasting pan, and roast in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes.
Immediately before serving, add the butter and port to the sauce and cook until the sauce is glossy. Serve the quail over a mound of Vegetable Couscous, surrounded baby vegetables and port sauce.
Place the couscous in a bowl, cover it with water, and carefully pour off the water. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and leek and saute for 3 minutes, stirring often, or until the leek is tender. Set aside.
Dice the pate into 1/4-inch pieces. Combine the rinsed couscous with the vegetables, pate, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the cinnamon, cumin, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan. Add the water, cover the pan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Turn off the heat and let sit for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the couscous is dry. Fluff it with a fork.