bits and pieces

Saturday, May 21, 2011

#EpicQuail aka Savoury Spice Rubbed Quail with Lime and Tamarind

So yesterday we had a small 'family dinner'. If
your family consists of your man-partner and two good-for-nothing electricians. Which apparently mine does. Although they're not good for nothing. They are lovely and excellent dinner guests. For those of you who don't know - if you're going to someone's house for dinner you should plan on staying awhile. And if you happen to bring a bottle of wine with you for sharing, all the better. Showing up for an hour, with two beers in your backpack, stuffing your face, and then running off to another commitment is just tacky. But let it be said, let it be known - they grown them real well mannered out here in the Prairies.
Jesse Fuchs is the newest addition to family dinners. He's back from adventuring. Since it was the first time I'd invited Jesse for dinner I figured I'd send him a text seeing what he wanted for dinner:

A: J-Fox what do you feel like for dinner.
J: Quail.
A: Silence.
A: No quail for you.

This was followed by an exchange of quail puns the likes of which the world has never seen. Highlights include:
Talib Quail-i
Quail-ity puns
All quail Caesar!
economies of quail
'omgz I burned dinner' #quail
I really hit the quail on the head. 
Growing up my fav game was the Oregon Quail 'oh no, jenny got bird flu'!

And so on, and so forth. And so it was decided - quail we would have. Now one of the less fun things about living in Regina is that the grocery stores only carry the most normal food imaginable. I couldn't get coconut milk last week. So I thought quail might be a bit of a stretch. However, trusting in my future husband Galen Weston (this is just getting creepy now) I decided to hit the giant superstore first. Lo and behold - QUAIL! SO MUCH QUAIL.

The first thing I learned was that quail are much smaller than I had initially thought. The second thing I learned was that they're easy, fast, and apparently delicious. If you live in a real city/know some hunters you should be able to get fresh quail reaaal easy. I had to buy frozen quail and I believe it was delicious. Or so I was told. But it's always nice if you can get it fresh and local. Even though I'm pretty sure quail is a glorified pigeon. As I understand it quail is a saltier meat than chicken that's a little bit game-ier, but not GAMEY like some things tend to be.

I made a whole bunch of quail but about 2 quails per person plus salad/potatoes/rice seemed to be
cuz I'm feeling so fly like a G-6
about right. And seriously my sweet bloggies - if you ever really want to knock someone's socks off but you're' also lazy/pressed for time/whatever - this is a great suggestion. The sauce takes about 10 minutes to make, and the quail take about 5 minutes per side under the broiler. THAT'S IT. And honestly - how many people would be expecting QUAIL at a casual dinner?

These little birds cook up in under 10 minutes, and get devoured in about the same. If the thought of your guests playing with their food is nauseating to you - don't cook quail. Everyone appeared to take great delight in using quail as finger puppets. I'm fairly certain you could serve this to children for the same reason. The only thing you have to in advance of making this is to thaw your quail. The quail also needs to 'marinate' in the fridge for about an hour so plan accordingly.

 QUAIL. The ones I found were packaged by a company called 'Wing Tat' and came in packages of six. I found about 2 quail per person to be acceptable assuming you're serving sides too. 
olive oil

1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3/4 cayenne (a scant/small 3/4 teaspoon)
a scant 3/4 teaspoon of allspice 
a  pinch of brown sugar

2 green onions, diced
1/2 cup chicken broth
a dash of hot sauce/2 dashes if you like to live dangerously
1/4 cup of lime juice
3 tbsp tamarind paste (you can also use molasses if you don't have tamarind).
2 tbsp butter

cilantro and extra green onion for garnish. I also zested the limes that I used for the juice.

other things you will need:
a broiler pan
some saran wrap
some tongs probably (for flipping your birds)
a small sauce pot for making your sauce and a spoon to drizzle it over your birds with

  1. First of all thaw your quail if you haven't done so already. This took me about two hours in the sink, in their package, covered with water. If your quail are already thawed, just leave them be for the moment. Maybe take a second to realize that quail kind of look like dead, muscular little fairies. Then regret thinking that. 
  2. Mix together your salt, pepper, cayenne, brown sugar and allspice. Using paper towels, pat your quaility-quails dry, and then rub with the spice mixture.
  3. Stick your quail in the refrigerator to chill for as long as you want. Ensure they're covered with saran wrap. I left mine for about an hour or so while I made salad + a barley 'rice' pilaf (which was SO good. I have to share).
  4. Once your bebe-quails have hung out in the fridge long enough it's time to make your sauce. But first! - Preheat your oven. Turn that broiler ON. 
  5. As for the sauce - heat your chicken stock, lime juice, and scallion. Once it's simmering add your tamarind. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Once those 10 minutes are up, stir in that butter. Turn the heat down low, and keep warm. 
  6. Before you get ready to cook your quails, ensure you've lubed up your broiler pan with that olive oil. Then heat the pan in the broiler for a couple minutes. Pull the oven rack out slightly (with the pan on it. It's too hot to just pull from the oven). Arrange your quail on the rack. 
  7. Stick under the broiler for about 5 minutes. But pay close attention as all ovens cook differently. Then using your tongs, flip your birds. Broil for another 5 minutes. Flip and broil for 1 last minute (breast side up). Then remove from oven. 
  8. Serve your quails on a bed of some sort of greens (I used pea greens), and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle conservatively with cilantro, lime zest, and green onion. Serve. Enjoy watching your guests massacre their dinner.

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