Monday, November 06, 2006

Market Game

Sun 05 Nov 2006

First Sunday of the month means first farmers' market of the month ... but after a holiday, would we still be any good at cooking?! After the success of the partridge we went for more game ... this time in the shape of quail. The recipe was found in the latest Australian Gourmet Traveller, but was a reader request from the Brisbane restaurant, ecco.

This was quite a fiddly dish to assemble, but quail is fantastically quick to cook, and lots of this could easily be done in advance.

We started off by making the sauce, with the recipe carefully adjusted for two (rather than the original six). Coarsely chop a quarter of an onion and gently saute with one chopped clove of garlic. Add a small handful of porcini and a sprinkling of black peppercorns and cook for a bit longer. Then add a good splash of sherry (we used amontillado and it smelled absolutely amazing!) and reduce a little before adding about 100mL of stock. Reduce further and then add about 200mL of single cream, before reducing again. Finish off with a little tarragon (ideally fresh, but we had to make do with dried). Allow the sauce to cool before straining. When you come to reheat DO NOT be tempted (like me) to use the microwave. You really do need to reheat this on the stove - gently. Nuking the sauce made it separate and I should have thought to be a little more careful with cream.

Next butterfly the quail (a brilliant excuse to acquire a pair of kitchen shears - I just need to manage a similar trick with, at least, an ice cream maker and a sandwich press!). Because quail are small you just need to cut them along the breast bone and they open up nicely. Our quails weren't gutted, so we cleaned them out and gave them a rinse before patting dry.

Heat some oil in a pan - get it good and hot and add the quail, skin side down. We didn't season the quail and I definitely would make the effort to do so. Brown for about 5 minutes. In the interim, have the roasting pan, with a splash of olive oil, heating in a good hot oven. Add the quail to the roasting pan, skin side up, and cook for about 5 or 10 minutes, before removing from the oven and resting, covered in foil, for a further 5 minutes.

We served the quail with tagliatelle, and roasted potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips. And we washed it down with 2001 La Grola Allegrini. This Italian red was a delicious soft wine with good tannin structure - maybe a little heavy for the dish (the richness of the cream sauce probably could have done with something a little higher in acid), but a very clever wine nonetheless.

Oh - and the quail was absolutely delicious cold for lunch today!

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