Quail with Marsala

All year

We love our quails! Make sure the quail is sufficiently fat, not damaged and not frozen. We prefer it if the head is still attached to the body. This allows you to use the skin of the neck, after having removed the head and the spine. Always clean the inside with a bit of paper and remove anything that’s left.
Quails have a delicate taste, but for some reason also allow you to add strong flavours like bay leaf or black olives.
Marsala is a fortified wine from Italy. It is (as Madeira) sold in funny small bottles. That’s not the Marsala you want to drink as an aperative, but it’s okay for this dish.

A red wine goes very well with this dish but since it’s a starter you could also try a Viognier.

Here is what you need:

  • one Quail (or 2 if you have an appetite)
  • 50 grams of chicken liver
  • 50 grams of pancetta
  • 1 small shallot
  • Onion, carrot, leek, celery (the usual suspects!)
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Butter

Clean the quail and remove the two legs and the two breasts. Set aside. Use the remainder to make quail stock, which is similar to making chicken stock. Reduce the stock when ready.
Fry the pancetta gently, remove the pancetta and discard the remaining fat. Glaze some shallot (half a small one?) in butter and when okay add the chicken liver (cut in chunks). Fry gently, making sure not to overcook.
Put the shallot, the chicken liver and some of the stock in the blender. When done pass through a sieve. Warm the liquid and taste. Maybe you want to add more stock? Maybe it’s too strong? Then remove half of the liquid and add more stock. If you’re out of stock feel free to add some chicken stock. All okay? Then warm a bit longer and add a splash or two of Marsala.
In parallel take a good, heavy skillet, warm it, add butter and oil, and fry the quail legs and breast, medium heat, give it a bit of time. When okay wrap in aluminium foil and wait for 5 minutes. Add the juices from the wrapped quail to the sauce, stir and keep warm. Taste again? Still okay? Repeat the step after 5 minutes.
Your dish is nearly ready. Some final tasting, maybe a touch of pepper?
Dress a dish with the sauce and serve a breast and a leg per person (or two of each if you have a serious appetite! Add the fried pancetta.
If you feel like making it easier for those joining you, then remove the larger bone of the quail leg end use some kitchen string to make it look like a leg again. Be sure to remove the string before serving.
If you’re okay with a bit more work, grill the pancetta in your oven and serve the grilled and crispy slices straight from the oven. It requires a bit of extra timing, but that’s okay since the sauce and the quail are both warm and can wait for a minute or two.