Quail à la Roden

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. 

Wine Pairing

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
  • Butter
  • 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. 

Quails and Snails in a Green Sauce

Many years ago we were looking for a place to eat in Fréjus. It was our last evening in France before returning home and obviously we were looking for something special, something typical Provençal. The area of our hotel wasn’t very promising, so we were ready to settle for pizza until we saw a small restaurant with a very interesting menu. It offered Tisane de RomarinCailles et Escargots and many other exciting dishes we unfortunately can’t remember. We entered the restaurant and had a perfect evening.

Combining quails and snails isn’t the most obvious idea, but rest assured, it works beautifully, also thanks to the very intriguing green sauce. It took us some time to make the sauce as it should be, but after a few attempts we think this is the right bridge between the quails and the snails.

Of course, we made a note of the name of the restaurant and of course, we lost it. A pity, although preparing this dish brings us back to a lovely evening in Fréjus.

Wine Pairing

Enjoy your Quails and Snails with a glass of Bourgogne: a chardonnay with a touch of oak. The wine must be dry, mineral and medium bodied. We enjoyed a glass of Bourgogne as produced by Louis Jadot. The wine partly matured in stainless steel tanks and partly in oak barrels. The result is a wine that has citrus and apple aromas in combination with oak and vanilla. Great with the freshness of the herbs and the richness of the sauce. It balances very well with both the quails and the snails. Two sides to everything in this dish!

What You Need

  • 2 Quails 
  • 6 Snails (click here when you want to know which snail to buy)
  • For the Sauce
    • 1 Bunch of Parsley
    • ½ Bunch of Tarragon
    • A few Leaves of Young Spinach
    • Cream
  • Vegetable Stock
  • Olive Oil
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Wash the snails with plenty of water. Set aside. Clean the quails. Best is to use the breasts only. (You could also serve the legs, provided you remove the main bone. It’s a bit of extra work, also for your guests.) Make sure you have a warm heavy iron skillet ready and a small pan with warm vegetable stock. Set your oven to 60 °C or 140 °F.

Blanch parsley, tarragon and spinach in boiling water and cool immediately in ice water. Blender parsley, tarragon and spinach with some ice water until you have a very smooth green liquid. Set your blender to turbo! Press using a sieve and store the green liquid. It will remain stable for at least an hour.

Fry the breasts quickly in olive oil. Warm the snails in the vegetable stock. Transfer the breasts to the warm oven. Clean the pan with kitchen paper, add cream and chicken stock. Let reduce for 5-10 minutes or until you’re happy with the consistency. Add liquid from the quails. Stir and taste. Perhaps some white pepper? Add green liquid until you have the right colour and taste. Be very careful, if you overheat the sauce it will lose its vibrant green colour. Serve the breasts and the snails in the sauce.

Quails and Snails in a Green Sauce ©cadwu
Quails and Snails in a Green Sauce ©cadwu

Quail with Pruneaux d’Agen and Bay Leaf

Fond Memories

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.

Wine Pairing

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
  • Butter

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 220° Celsius (430° 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 10 minutes turn the quails, label fat over the breast and after another 10 minutes your quails should be ready and golden. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let the quails rest for 10 minutes.
Remove the kitchen string and serve with seasonal vegetables from the oven.