Many years ago we enjoyed dinner at a restaurant called Auberge des Seigneurs in Vence, France. The menu included classic dishes such as blue trout, chicken, tian and tender lamb cooked on a spit before an open fire. Ah, Madame Rodi, we fondly remember those evenings, Monsieur Tim and your infinite hospitality.
One of the items on the menu was quail with prunes and bay leaf. Since that day we love our quails! They have a delicate taste, with a nice touch of fattiness. For some reason the meat goes very well with strong flavours like bay leaf, black olives, sage et cetera.
Make sure the quail is sufficiently fat and not frozen. We prefer it if the head is still attached because it allows you to use the skin of the neck, after having removed the head and the spine.
Buying Pruneaux d’Agen could be a challenge, but other prunes will be fine too, provided they are moist and tasty.
At the Auberge we enjoyed the red Rimauresq Classique, A.O.P. Côtes de Provence – Cru classé. In general a red wine will go very well with the quails, provided it comes with a bit of fruit and it is not too complex. It should balance with the sweetness and nuttiness (prunes, pancetta) of the dish and the beautiful smell of bay leaf.
What You Need
- 2 Quails
- 50 grams of Pancetta
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 6 Pruneaux d’Agen
- Olive oil
What You Do
Clean the inside of the quails with kitchen paper and remove anything that’s left. Check the skin for feathers and hollow shafts. Cut 4 pruneaux and the pancetta in smaller bits and mix together. Now stuff the quail with a bay leaf, then the mixture and finish with a pruneaux. Use kitchen string to close the quail. Pre-heat your oven to 180° Celsius (355° Fahrenheit). Put the quails in a skillet with olive oil. Make sure the breast is downward facing. This way the fat will go towards the breast, making sure these are nice and moist. Put in upper half of oven. After 15 minutes turn the quails, label fat over the breast and after another 15 minutes your quails should be ready and golden. Remove from the oven and let the quails rest for 10 minutes. You could cover the quails with aluminium foil, to make the meat juicer but you risk losing the crispy skin.
Remove the kitchen string and serve with seasonal vegetables from the oven or with golden turnips.