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Wild quail two ways

Winter is coming, and there is nothing greater than a hot meal that includes all of your favorite flavors and spices, combined with a taste of some wild game. My favorite wild game are duck, boar, venison and so on. However, one of my favorite recipes of all the time when it comes to the winter season is “Wild Quail 2 ways.”

This is not an ordinary quail dish, as you may have encountered at a local restaurant in South Jersey. This quail dish is prepared in two ways by using and consuming all the bird has to offer. When I had prepared this dish in the past for a family occasion, sadly I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with the result because I believe it can always taste better. Since then, I have been brainstorming and honing in an attempt to perfect the dish. As a result, I believe the dish has almost reached its peak, which is the version I’m sharing here.

Although I consider myself a student of French cuisine, when it comes to creating my own recipe in a French style, it brings out my Asian roots. I think it’s because I gain so much confidence cooking the foods that I like with a twist. For instance, after glazing the breasts nicely with quail sauce, I top them with some pistachio crisps that I guarantee will explode your taste buds if you follow the recipe.

QUAIL

  • 1 quail
  • transglutaminase, for dusting

HERB BRINE

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup rosemary
  • ½ cup thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns

TO CONFIT THE LEGS

  • 2 quail legs
  • flour, seasoned with salt
  • 1 egg, beaten to make eggwash
  • 1 handful of Panko breadcrumbs
  1. To begin, prepare the quail. Remove the quail legs and set aside. Remove the breasts, but leave them attached to the skin in one piece – this is tricky but once mastered, it makes cooking easier later in the recipe.
  2. Add all the brine ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and chill the brine.
  3. Brine the breasts for 40 minutes and the legs for 1 hour.
  4. Wash the breasts and legs under cold water and lay out the breasts skin-side down on a work surface. Dust with the transglutaminase and roll up in cling film tightly to create neat cylinders (to create a quail sausage). Allow to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours ideally (longer if possible).
  5. For the quail sausage, after cooking in the water bath, take them out, quick sear them for a nice color of the skin; then, glaze them in the quail sauce that is made of the quail waste and mix with some Asian spices, as shared below.
  6. Remove the thigh bones from the quail legs and French-trim the leg bones. Fold the thigh over the bone and pierce the skin to create a lollipop shape.
  7. Preheat a water bath to 85°C.
  8. Roll and tie the quail legs in cling film, so they retain their shape. Place in a vacuum bag, seal in a chamber sealer and cook in the water bath for 2 hours. Plunge into ice water to set.
  9. Preheat a water bath to 65°C.
  10. Once set, place the quail breasts in a small vacuum bag, seal, and cook for 20 minutes.
  11. Preheat the deep fryer to 150°C.
  12. Remove the quail legs from the bag and cling film. Dust them first in flour, then dredge in egg wash and finally roll in the breadcrumbs to coat. Deep-fry until golden.
  13. Remove the breasts from the bag, and roast in a hot pan until golden-brown. Allow to rest before carving and serving. Do the same thing to the other leg, quick glaze in a table spoon of butter, dash of salt and a branch of rosemary for the perfume.

Pistachio Crisp

2 tablespoons of pistachio
1/2 tablespoon of almond
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary 
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon aged maple syrup vinegar
Dash of salt, cracked pepper
  1. Blend everything together except the olive oil and the vinegar.
  2. Buzz the olive oil and vinegar together and blend them into the mixture at the end.
  3. Serve the pistachio crisp as a topping on the quail complement.

Pearl Barley Risotto

1 cup pearl barley
3 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. ladle brown stock
2 cups parmesan cheese
1.5 Tbsp. cream
Black pepper
Salt

For the starch portion of the dish, I accidentally concocted a pearl barley risotto; the story behind that is probably better suited for another article. Cook the pearl barley for 15 minutes, then drain it. In a small sauce skillet, add 2 tablespoons of butter, then add the barley after the butter has melted. Then, add 1 small ladle of brown stock at a time until the barley is fully cooked, and almost evaporates all the cooking liquid. Add 2 cups of parmesan cheese, 1.5 tablespoons of cream, generously crack some black pepper in there and finish with 1 teaspoon of butter to bring out the creaminess of the dish. Season with salt at the end, so you can adjust as needed. As long as the dish turns out like regular risotto, you are doing it right.

Savory Corn Puree

1 cup corn
2 oz. heavy cream
1 oz. butter
Salt
Sugar
2 tsp. corn starch (per 2 tsp. water, for thickening)

I finish the dish with a savory corn puree. Its purpose is to be served as a sauce. Basically, it’s a mixture of corn, heavy cream, butter, salt and sugar. Buzz everything together, then strain through a chinois. To thicken the puree, use a corn starch mixed with some cold water to finish it.

When you finish all of the components of this recipe, you’ll have a warm, delightful meal for a cold winter night.

Note: The cooking equipment I am using is the Sousvide machine, from Anova company, which you can easily purchase from Amazon.

Huy Hoang is a student in the Culinary Arts program at RCBC. rcbc.edu/culinary