Blackberry and Balsamic Roast Quail

by Jenn on August 16, 2009

in Diabetic Friendly,Dips and Sauces,Gluten Free,Meats

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There is no greater sin than to overcook a quail.” – No Reservations

So says Catherine Zeta Jones’s character in the movie when she talks about all the different ways that she loved to prepare quail. This sounds mighty intimidating, but when done well, the result is perfection in your mouth.  Quail are small and delicate, and when cooked just right, perfectly flavorful and tender.  For being game fowl, quail does not have a very strong taste, just a very flavorful one.  There is a bit of a trick to cooking them though, because of their size.  If you cook them at too low of a temperature, the time required would dry them out too much.  So you need to roast them at a higher temperature than you would say, a chicken or a turkey.  However, that means that you need to watch them more carefully, so that they don’t overcook.  It is a definite balance.  Now if only I could figure out how to eat one as neatly :)

This recipe was adapted from this Balsamic Glazed Quail I found over on Feel Good Eats.  I added in fresh blackberries to the marinade because nothing says summer like cooking with fruit, even in your entrees.  I also doubled the marinade sauce and used half of it some fennel for the topping.  Fennel is a great vegetable that I really need to use more.  Also known as anise, it has a sharp yet savory licorice flavor that I am still learning how to play with, and possible use in place of aromatics (onions, shallot, etc.) in other recipes.  Here, the fennel added the perfect new dimension of flavor to the sweet/tart of the blackberry/balsamic sauce.  The quail sat on a bed of a simple sauteed spinach and arugula with some goat cheese mixed in.  This dish had a lot of different flavors, but they all came together in the perfect symphony of sensations and tastes.

So do not be afraid of quail, or experimenting with new flavors – adding in the blackberry and fennel was a total experiment here, and in this case, the perfect success!

Also linked to – Friday Foodie Fix

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Adapted from Feel Good Eats – unfortunately the website I adapted this recipe from no longer exists.

For the marinade –
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup blackberries
2 tsp. thyme, dried
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the entree –
4 quail
prosciutto slices (optional)
1 tbs. butter
1 head fennel, chopped
more salt, pepper, thyme
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 lb. spinach
1/4 lb. arugula
4 oz. goat cheese
more salt, pepper
blackberries for garnish

1. Heat vinegar and blackberries in a small pan – mash blackberries and reduce liquid to half volume, add in thyme, salt, pepper – set aside and let cool.  Then add in olive oil
2. Rinse quail and pat dry.  Rub quail liberally with salt and pepper, then place in a plastic bag and add in half of the marinade.  Let marinate in the fridge for 2-4 hrs.  Keep the other half of the marinade separate.
3. Preheat oven to 350F.  In a casserole dish or other stove/oven compatible dish, heat up olive oil (med-high heat) and brown quail on all sides – this should not take long, a few minutes on each side.  Once browned, wrap quail with prosciutto (if desired) and transfer dish to oven.  Bake 10-15 min breast side up, until prosciutto is cooked and quail is cooked.  You can check the thigh of the quail to see how well done it is.
4. While quail are roasting, make the sauce – saute (med-high) the fennel in butter until translucent, and add in salt, pepper, and thyme.  Then add in the other half of the marinade sauce and cook on med-low (just a simmer) for a few minutes until the sauce develops a nice sheen to it.  Make sure to pour any drippings from the quail roast into the sauce too!
5. Saute spinach and arugula in olive oil until wilted, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in small pieces of goat cheese.
6. For plating – plate spinach/arugula first, then add your quail.  Top with blackberry/fennel sauce and garnish with fresh blackberries and/or fennel leaf.