Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stuffed Quail with Rosemary Jus and Sage Potatoes

         A great advantage of being a home cook, in comparison with professional chefs, is an opportunity to choose the ingredients and cooking mode according to your skills. Thus, if you are not good at filleting a fish, you will ask a monger to do it for you, if you find making a puff pastry to be a troublesome process, you will use a bought one and if working with gelatine reminds you of Russian roulette (one day it sets, the other day it doesn’t) – you will simply stay away from it. Sometimes, however, it’s good to challenge yourself in the kitchen and go beyond your comfort zone.

            Last week I eventually made myself complete a task that I always tried to avoid: deboning a bird. Instead of going for poultry, I decided to start with something smaller – a quail. On the one hand, it has much less bones, on the other hand, since it’s a tiny bird, you have to be delicate with it. It took me a while to debone a first quail but the second and the third ones were less time-consuming (seriously, it’s a kind of skill that you gain amazingly quickly). Stuffing them was also a bit messy process: again, they are so tiny that it’s not quite easy to put a small amount of filling inside and to sew up. The result, however, was worth all the efforts. I should say that since my husband got used to all sorts of elaborate dishes that go out of my kitchen, it’s really difficult for me to surprise him at a dinner table. That day, however, I managed to do it: he was astonished by the fact that he can eat the whole bird (just in a couple of bites) without bothering about the bones. I was pleased to hear his praise and got really inspired to make a step further and to try something similar with the whole chicken next time!


Stuffed quails
3 quails
5 tbsp cooked rice
1 tbsp green peas
40 gm button mushrooms, chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
¼ small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
150 ml hot chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste

Rosemary jus
Reserved carcasses of the quails
½ cup of vegetable mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot)
2 tbsp olive oil
50 ml white wine
200 ml hot chicken stock
1 tbsp rosemary
Salt and black pepper to taste

Sage potatoes
250 gm baby potatoes
2 tsp dried sage
1 tbsp butter
salt to taste


  1. For stuffed quails, make a filling by heating butter in a pan and sautéing the onion till it’s translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms, season to taste and cook for a few more minutes. Mix the mushrooms with the rice and the peas. Debone the quail (you may leave bones in the wings), put a little bit of filling onto each bird, reshape it and sew it up. Put more filling inside to make it tightly stuffed. Tie up the legs and the wings. Heat olive oil in a pan and caramelize the birds on both sides. Add stock, cover with the lid and cook on low for about 20 minutes or until the quails are tender.
  2. For rosemary jus, heat olive oil in a pan and caramelize the reserved bones together with the vegetables. Deglaze the pan with the wine, let it evaporate to syrupy consistency, then add the stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, and then strain through a sieve. Return to the pan and bring to boil again, add rosemary and reduce to the desired consistency. Adjust the seasoning.
  3. For sage potatoes, boil the peeled potatoes, drain the water and, while the potatoes are still hot, add the butter and the salt and sprinkle with the sage.
  4. To serve, remove the threads from the quails, place them on the plate and drizzle the rosemary jus over them. Arrange potatoes on the side.


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