Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Braised Quail with Polenta and Leek Broccoli Soup

I got an immersion blender for Christmas and now I want to blend EVERYTHING.  But I started small and made a quick, easy leek and broccoli soup.  I also went to Balducci's for the first time in a few years.  They had pheasant, rabbit, wild boar, venison, and quail!  I've had quail several times in restaurants and wanted to cook some, but never saw them at the grocery store. This was my first attempt at cooking quail.  I posted my other quail dish first because I thought the sauce was awesome.

Even though the quail have to sit in the fridge for a bit after they're rubbed with the spice mixture, this dish isn't very labor intensive.  The meal doesn't really take long to put together. I served my quail with some sundried tomato polenta (just heat it up out of the tube!) and I made some leek and broccoli soup with my immersion blender. 

 A few years ago, I watched Kitchen Nightmares (back when they still filmed it in England).  One episode featured a chef who overthought all of his recipes and ended up taking a simple concept, such as broccoli soup, and creating a recipe that called for 25 ingredients.  When I was looking for a broccoli soup to try, I remembered how Gordon Ramsay's soup had about 5 ingredients in it and it looked much better than the other chef's.  The recipe is from the Williams Sonoma Soup book and is pretty simple and straightforward.  If you like broccoli, you would love this soup.  If you only like broccoli when it's disguised to the point of being undetectable, you can probably give this one a pass.

The quail recipe states that you should brown the quail in a skillet and then transfer them to a roasting dish to cook in the oven.  I put the quail on a plate, made the wine sauce, and then put the quail back in the skillet and put it directly in the oven.  My roasting dish is gigantic and I didn't feel like getting it out. The quail cooked perfectly but I burned my hand really badly because I forgot to use an oven mitt.  So, if you don't put your skillet in the oven very often, or if like me, you like to discuss last night's episode of The Daily Show while you're taking stuff out of the oven, for the love of all that is holy use an oven mitt!!

Quick Braised Quail alla Giancarlo
From The Wine Lover Cooks Italian
Serves 2

4 quail
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine

1) Rinse the quail and skewer them if they don't come with the skewers already in them.  (Insert the skewer through the bottom of each bird, through the thighs and the bottom of the breast).
2) Mix the garlic, sage, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
3) Moisten the quail with about 1 Tbsp olive oil and then rub the spice mixture all over them. Place the quail on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4) Preheat your oven to 425 F and remove the quail 30 minutes before cooking. (I didn't do this, I just took the quail out of the fridge when I began to heat my oven).
5) In a skillet that is large enough to fit all four quail, heat the rest of the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the quail and brown on both sides.  This should take about 5 minutes per side.  Transfer the quail to a roasting dish or a plate (if you don't have a roasting dish or want to use your skillet instead).
6) Deglaze the skillet that the quail was cooked in with a little of the wine.  Scrape up all of the brown bits.  Place the quail back in the skillet (or pour the wine mixture into the roasting pan) and add the rest of the wine.
7) Roast the quail in the oven for 8-10 minutes for medium-rare to medium. Remove quail from the pan, place on a plate, and cover with tin foil.  Put the pan on the stove and boil the wine sauce until it reduces by half, about 4 minutes.
8) Remove the skewers from the quail, place on a plate and spoon the sauce over them.  Serve with polenta and a green salad or some soup.

Leek and Broccoli Soup
From Williams Sonoma Soup
Serves 2

1 leek, including tender green parts, rinsed very well (get rid of all the grit!) and finely chopped.
3/4 lb broccoli florets and stalks cut into 1 inch pieces (I bought one broccoli crown and it was enough)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and white pepper to taste
Sour cream or plain yogurt (I used sour cream)

1) Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized pot.
2) Add leeks and saute about 5 minutes, until they are tender.
3) Add the broccoli and saute about 2 minutes more, until the broccoli softens.
4) Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Partially cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the broccoli is easily pierced with a knife.  Remove from heat.
5) Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. (Or use a regular blender and do it in batches).
6) Reheat the soup and season with salt and white pepper.  Transfer to bowls and garnish with sour cream or yogurt.

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