Wednesday, July 1, 2009

broiled spice-rubbed quail

I picked up a package of quail (frozen, sadly) at the same market where I bought the rabbit. I've never eaten or cooked quail so I don't have a good basis for comparison, but I was fairly pleased with the way they turned out.

I used a recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook. I really like that book. The quail are given a rub of salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and allspice.

After marinating, they are brushed with olive oil and broiled for about four or five minutes per side.

The sauce is interesting, made from chicken stock, lime juice, molasses, scallions, and butter. It's described as a contemporary version of the classic French gastrique, a reduction of sugar and red wine vinegar. I thought it was excellent. I would reduce it well beyond what the recipe called for, though, if I made it again. "Slightly thickened" did not result in something that adheres well to the birds.

The flesh was tasty if unremarkable. Perhaps a bit sweeter than chicken, and a little more robust. Isaac was much more interested in the anatomy than he ever has been about a whole chicken. I think he felt a bit of sadness for what he envisioned as a cute little bird. But it was a good chance to talk about whether it had a rib cage, whether all vertebrates have rib cages (I couldn't think of one that didn't), what kinds of internal organs had been removed from the cavity, and what had become of its head.

I'd try to crisp the skin more next time. I do suspect that fresh birds would be more flavorful and juicy. I'm pretty sure I've seen them at Central Market; I should do a comparison with the same recipe.

I also made a red lentil soup using a sturdy homemade chicken stock as a base. Nothing else but lentils, salt, and pepper, and it was very satisfying.

A side dish was zucchini sautéed in butter and garlic with wilted spinach. Excellent. Nice crunch from the squash to complement the smoothness of the baby spinach. And I'd eat my flip flops with enough butter and garlic.

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