A few excellent ingredients is sometimes all you need to cook a wonderful dish. In this case you need quail, shallot, olive oil, butter, sage and Marsala.
We love the delicate, pleasantly intense flavour of quails. They are great to combine with strong flavours like bay leaf, pancetta and prunes but in this case, we follow a recipe by Claudia Roden, as published in her excellent book The Food of Italy. We tweaked it a bit, so please buy Claudia Roden’s book when you want to make the original.
Marsala is a fortified wine from Sicily. Perhaps you know it as something sold in small bottles, especially for cooking purposes. Never buy this nasty product because it can’t be compared to real Marsala. Same story for the small ‘Madeira’ bottles.
Quails must be sufficiently fat and undamaged. We prefer the French label rouge quails. Not cheap, but a wealth of flavours.
The dish comes with a gentle, intense and slightly sweet taste thanks to the sage, the marsala and the quail. You could go for a medium bodied red wine. We enjoyed a glass of Domaine Vico Corse Le Bois du Cerf Rosé 2021 with our quail. This is an exceptional rosé from Corsica. It is made from grenache and sciacarello grapes. It is medium bodied and fresh with aromas of red fruit. Its taste is complex, long and fruity.
What You Need
- 2 Quails
- 1 Shallot
- Olive Oil
- 4 Leaves of Sage
- Dry or Medium Dry Marsala
- Chicken Stock
- Black Pepper
What You Do
Clean the inside of the quail with a bit of kitchen paper and remove anything that’s left. Check for remaining feathers and shafts. Gently fry the chopped shallot in butter and olive oil until soft. Remove the shallot from the pan, increase the temperature and fry the quails until golden-brown. Reduce the heat, add shallot and sage. Pour in marsala and stock. Cook the quails for 20 minutes until done, turning them over regularly. Transfer the quails to a warm oven (60˚ C or 140˚ F). Reduce the sauce, taste, add black pepper, perhaps some freshly chopped sage and diced cold butter to thicken the sauce. Serve the quail on top of the sauce.
Claudia Roden serves the quails with risotto.