Paul has left the city of Chicago. It was tragic but we all knew it would happen sooner or later. He's gone off to the nation's capital to try to get the planning job he's always wanted. Let's wish him luck. In honor of that, and his birthday, we had a celebratory meal. For those of you who are Sam's Wine customers, you may have gotten my email about the wine I chose to pair with this meal. If not, this will all be new to you.
I felt like having game, so I called up Chicago Game and Gourmet to see what they had that was fresh, or at least not currently frozen. It turns out they had quail that was partially boned, which makes things much easier, and so I jumped on the trusty bicycle and headed down to 350 N. Ogden.
The recipe that follows was inspired by Provencal cuisine. I figured that the birds needed something to make them a bit richer to hold up to the wines I had planned. I had some good black olives and decided that a tapenade would serve that purpose, but I wanted something that was a touch sweet as well. I always thought game fowl went well with fruit, and so the inspiration hit me, figs were the answer. And thus was born grilled quails with olive and fig sauce.
8 medium sized quails
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoons diced parsley
3 cloves of garlic
3 cups red wine
fresh ground white pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine above ingredients in a large bowl and allow to marinate for about three hours.
1/8 lb of homemade bacon roughly diced
6 dried figs roughly chopped
1/4 cup black olives pitted and diced
4 shallots diced
1 teaspoon diced fresh sage
1 cup of marsala
1/2 cup of chicken stock
Combine the figs and marsala and allow the figs to soak up that wonderfull booze for about half an hour. Start the grill and allow the coals to get fairly hot. Being cooking the bacon and cook until most of the fat is rendered and the pieces are crispy. Remove from skillet and add shallots and cook over low heat until shallots are soft. Increase heat and add the figs and marsala and cook until most of the liquid is gone. Add the olives and stock and bring to a simmer and then reduced the heat and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes.
At this point you can throw your quails on the grill. Remove the quails from the marinade, pat fry but you don't have to be so thorough that you remove all the herbs and garlic. The fire should be hot enough that you can acheive a crispy skin without buring the birds (medium-high heat). Grill the birds skin side down for about 4 minutes or until brown and crispy, flip the birds and cook for about another 5-7 minutes or until the juices run relatively clear (I tend to cook my birds a little less then most because I don't like cooking all those wonderful juices out).
Reheat the sauce while adding the bacon and herbs and salt an pepper to taste. Spoon over the quail and serve. I paired this with an herbed potato cake and roasted aspargus and of course, the wine.
The Cairanne was for work and the Burgundy was for fun. Two wonderfully contrasting wines. The Cairanne from Domaine Brusset, who makes some of my favorite Cote du Rhone wines, was dark and rich and worked very well with the sauce, but is still ultimately a very young wine and I would love to see it with a bit of bottle age. The burgundy, although not a particularly notable bottling from Domenique Laurent, still had some wonderful character. It was a little tart but opened up as the meal went on. It was a great sending off and I wish Paul all the best in DC.