Quail in Red Wine with Braised Red Cabbage
The lovely Cheval d’Or restaurant is at the Windridge Inn, and is the perfect country inn location for Yves Labbé’s country French cuisine. Here he partners quail with a side dish of red cabbage braised with maple syrup, making this a true Vermont delicacy. Mushroom-studded red wine sauce made with the quail cooking juices adds more flavor depth. Chef Labbé notes that the red cabbage dish may be fine-tuned by adding minced duck meat and duck skin sautéed in duck fat in lieu of bacon if you are serving it with roast duckling, or bits of chicken and smoked ham if you are serving it with pheasant or partridge.
- Red Cabbage
- Bacon - 5 ounces, diced small
- Goose, Duck, or Pork Fat - 1 ounce
- White Onion - 1/4 large, chopped
- Granny Smith Apple - 1
- Red Cabbage - 1 small, cored and sliced thin
- Bay Leaves - 1 or 2 whole, depending on size
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Maple Syrup - 1/2 cup
- Quails and Sauce
- Quails - 8, cleaned
- Bacon - 4 slices, cut in half
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons, melted
- Mirepoix - fine dice of 2 carrots, 1 medium onion, 2 shallots, and 1 garlic clove
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Pinch of thyme
- Parsley - 1 sprig
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Cabernet Sauvignon - 1 bottle
- Flour - 1 tablespoon
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon, at room temperature
- Cognac - 1 tablespoon
- Fresh Parsley - 8 sprigs
To prepare the cabbage: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cook the bacon in an iron skillet over medium-high heat until the bacon begins to render its fat. Add enough of the goose, duck, or pork fat to make a total of 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan. Add the onion and cook until the onion is soft and the bacon bits are crisp. Quarter, core, and peel the apple and cut into thin slices. Add the apple slices and stir until coated. Add the cabbage and bay leaves and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the cabbage is limp, tossing occasionally. Stir in the maple syrup. Cover the skillet and bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring twice during the cooking time. Set aside; keep warm.
To prepare the quail: Preheat the oven to 500 F. Trim the quails, snipping the last joint off each wing. Clean the cavities, reserving the livers for the sauce if you have them. Place a piece of bacon into each quail. Secure the wings and legs of each quail against the body with cotton string. In a cast iron skillet, heat two tablespoons of the butter and sear the quails on all sides until golden brown. Put the quails into the oven in the iron skillet, breast sides up, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the quails from the pan and set aside; keep warm.
To prepare the sauce: Put the pan over medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter, the mirepoix, bay leaf, thyme, and parsley. Saute until the vegetables soften, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. While the vegetables are cooking, debone the quail, separating the breasts, legs, and thighs from the carcasses. Set the boned meat aside and cover with an inverted plate to keep it warm.
In a heavy skillet, heat the clarified butter, add the mushrooms, and saute until softened and slightly browned. Set aside.
Chop the carcasses and add them to the mirepoix. Chop the livers if you have them and set aside. Pour the wine over the ingredients in the pan, stir up the glaze from the bottom, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until reduced by half. Strain the developing sauce through a fine-meshed sieve and return it to the pan; you should have at least 2 cups. Mash the flour and butter together (beurre manie) and whisk into the sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Add the quail meat and chopped livers to the sauce and simmer 2 minutes, until heated. Stir the cognac into the sauce.
To serve: Mound red cabbage in the center of each warmed serving plate. Slice the breasts and fan breast meat around the cabbage, then place legs and thighs on each plate, placing them to one side. Stir the mushrooms into the sauce and spoon the sauce over the quail. Garnish with parsley.