Monday, February 27, 2012

Roasted Quail With Apple Stuffing And Chicken Veloute

When I was a little boy I lived on a ranch in Acton, California for two years. It was a dry, desert area near Palmdale. Every once in a while my grandfather and grandmother would come visit. They'd bring shotguns and we'd go quail hunting. The birds were - and remain - pretty easy to shoot. They aren't hard to flush, fly in a low, straight line and tire quickly. That means that they don't fly very far. In short order it's easy to bag an entire meal.

     Sadly, there's not much in the way of quail hunting in Los Angeles, so I had to but my quail from a specialty food store in Culver City called Surfas. Dear God, I spent $40 for four quail. Oy vey. Next time one of my buddies goes hunting - I still have a few friends who hunt - I am going to ask them to blast a couple of extra birds for me.

     This dish is pretty amazing. It will take about 90 minutes to prepare and will provide an amazing centerpiece for any meal. 

Roasted Quail With Apple Stuffing And Chicken Veloute

For the Quail
4 quail, boned and thawed
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 quarter of a medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons fennel, diced
Sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper

For the Stuffing
3 cups baguette, ¼ to ½ inch dice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup Granny Smith apple, ¼ inch dice
3 tablespoons fennel, fine dice
8-10 lavender flowers
1 teaspoon rosemary, fine dice
salt and pepper
½ cup+ chicken stock

For the Chicken Veloute
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

For the Stuffing
1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a saute pan. Over medium low heat, sweat the apples until they are softened.

3. While the apples are cooking - about halfway through - add the lavender flowers, fennel and rosemary.

4. Remove the mixture from the saute pan and reserve.

5. In the saute pan add 2 tablespoons of butter and toast the baguette cubes until golden brown. When done, add them to the apple mixture.

6. Gradually add the chicken stock to the stuffing until it is moist.

7. Bake the stuffing for 25 minutes until it begins to firm up, yet still yields to the touch. Reserve the stuffing and allow it to cool.

For the Veloute
1. In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer.

 2. Meanwhile, prepare a white roux by melting the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour a bit at a time until smooth.

 3. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the stock. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cook until the taste of the flour has vanished. This may take 10 to 20 minutes. You may skim any skin that forms on the surface with a spoon. Whisk frequently and add stock as needed to keep it from becoming too thick.

 4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Strain through a chinois or fine mesh strainer if you'd like.

For the Quail
1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Prepare a baste by sweating the onions, garlic and fennel in one tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Strain and reserve.

3. Gently stuff the quail.

4. Season each one with salt and pepper. Place a dollop of butter atop each bird.

5. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Every three minutes, baste with the butter.

6. Drizzle each quail with veloute, garnish with sprigs of thyme and serve.

For the veloute, you may need to add additional stock if it cools and thickens while you are waiting for the quail to roast. The quail will start to smoke in the last few minutes of the cooking process as the fat begins to render. Just make sure you have adequate ventilation. You can also double the stuffing recipe and serve each bird on a bed of stuffing.


  1. Looks DELISH!

    Could you do this with Cornish Game Hens? Are they similarly sized to Quails?

    1. Thanks, George!

      This would definitely work for cornish game hen. You'd just need to adjust the oven temp and cooking time. Also, tie the hen;s legs together so that the stuffing doesn't dry out.

      Rock on, brother!