Monday, January 9, 2012

sauté of quail with grapes

Last night I made a dish from p.94 of James Beard's The Fireside Cook Book: A Complete Guide to Fine Cooking for Beginner and Expert, Sauté of Quail with Grapes.

The recipe calls for 6 quail, brandy, and white grapes.  I had a package of 4 quail, bourbon, and red grapes...and a strong desire to stay home.

Below is James Beard's recipe with my comments and variations in italic.

Sauté of Quail with Grapes
There are are many varieties of quail in the United States: in the East, the bob-white, called partridge in the South; west of the Rockies, the crested or California quail, which is a most delicious morsel, and various varieties of valley and mountain quail.  A quail is a small bird, one usually being considered a portion.  Quail should be quite fresh and should be well-lubricated, for it has a tendency to be dry.  The breasts need salt pork and almost constant basting.  (Salt pork is similar to bacon and fatback.  Distinct from bacon, it is not smoked.  Unlike fatback, it's salty.  As its name suggests, this pork product is cured in salt.  It's a common ingredient in a soup base.)
For serving this dish and any variations of it that my suggest themselves, make oval croustades of dry bread.  A croustade is a crust molded into a bowl, using a slice of bread, rice, or even pasta.  Baking for a short period of time allows it to keep its bowl shape.  Think of a bread soup bowl.  Cut bread about 2 inches thick; just a bit larger than the quail.  Cut out an oval cup into which the quail or other small bird will fit, and toast the croustade gently in a slow oven.  Butter the cavity into which you place the bird.  Since I was not using freshly-baked bread, I couldn't cut it thicker and decided not to cut out an oval cup.  
Prepare the quail for sautéing.  Brown the birds very quickly in butter, salt and pepper to taste, and add broth.  Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add brandy and blaze it.  Yep, light it on fire.  I used a candle lighter.  The flame was a lovely blue but somewhat underwhelming, as my liquor of choice didn't have a high alcohol content.  (Thanks to my photographer, Jenny, for catching what little flame was visible.) 

Add white grapes.  Cover again and simmer for 8 minutes longer.  The quail and grapes are shown here through the glass lid.
Serve in croustades and pass the sauce in a separate dish.  (Serves 6.)

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It was yummy, but the liquor taste wasn't desirable for all my tasters.  It would seem a variation could easily leave out that step, but it was fun to catch the dish on fire ever so briefly.


  1. That's a beautiful presentation, and it looks yummy! Good luck perfecting it to suit your guests. It's hard to beat James Beard! And HOW did you manage to frame the photos???

  2. Thank you!! :) He does say "any variations that may suggest themselves"; sans alcohol would indeed be a variation!

    As far as the frames, I have no idea! They all are. I'm using a customized Awesome, Inc. template.