Caille à Vin (Quail in Wine)

20140729_154427One of the things you may not know about me, and how would you since it’s the first time I’ve mentioned it, is that I am a total Francophile. Ever since I was a young girl I have admire just about everything French from the beauty of the sensual language to the buttery croissants and of course…the wine. So it should come as no surprise that I have tried my hand—not with a ton of success if I’m being honest—at several of the less complicated French dishes.

I have mastered the traditional coq au vin and one day I may even show you my efforts. As you can imagine it is difficult to make this dish with a vegetarian spouse, but I just make half the chicken and only serve him the veggies, sauce and rice or noodles. It works.

Throw in my need (compulsion?) to make traditional dishes in my own way and you can see how I thought this dish would be a good idea. Just ask my husband or my friends, you will often find on my menu things like steak-less Pepper Steak or Welsh Rarebit Mac & Cheese. I’m just a big fan of taking something I have always loved and changing it up to match how I eat now. I love macaroni and cheese, like freakin’ rub it all over my body LOVE it. But you will never catch me noshing on electric orange powder mac & cheese…EVER. I make my own cheese sauce so I can change it up and make it more grown up.

Hence my need to try something else au vin because, let’s face it, food drenched in wine is a pretty good idea. One of the best from the French which I think we should all embrace!

This time though I wanted to try something a little different; quail. I will tell you up front that I have never cooked quail before. I’ve never even really eaten it. But I stumbled upon it at the supermarket and the price was more than reasonable for 4 so I thought what the heck. Then my next conundrum was…what the hell am I going to do with quail?!?!

Make quail au vin of course! Nevermind the Frenglish, you get my drift.

I should re-iterate that I have never eaten or cooked quail before, which is kind of a recipe for disaster. You’re probably thinking, why would you try quail for the first time in a coq au vin recipe. Truthfully, I don’t know. I did my research on how to properly cook this teeny tiny bird and made adjustments to the recipe. I found a few other recipes I wanted to try but I figured braising in a red wine/broth mix gave me the best chance to make it tasty and moist.

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If you’ve never cooked quail before you should know that there is not a lot of meat, so if you’re an enthusiastic carnivore you should plan on having 2 to yourself. Also these birds cook quickly, which means they get dry faster than you could imagine. To fit into this dish you will need to make a few adjustments, but if you use the bacon or lardon you can help maintain moisture while it cooks.

Makes: 1 or 2 servings…depending on your love of meat.

Ingredients

  • 2 Quail
  • 1 large Vidalia onion
  • 2 Celery stalks
  • 2 tbsp. Tomato paste
  • 2 ½ cups Red Wine (pinot noir or Cộtes du Rhộne are my fave)
  • 2 cups Crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 Carrots, sliced on a bias
  • 2 cups Egg noodles
  • 3 cups Vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup All-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. Olive oil

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Directions

  1. Chop all vegetables until they are pretty uniform in size for even cooking.
  2. Season quail with salt and pepper and lightly coat with flour.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add quail. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes on each side and remove from pot.
  4. Add in onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. If you use lardon or bacon you will cook it before you cook the veggies so you can cook them in the rendered fat.
  5. Place quail back into the pot and lightly flour everything.
  6. Pour in wine and stir to remove sticky bits from the bottom of the pot.
  7. Add in broth until quail is almost totally covered.
  8. Cook over a low simmer until sauce starts to thicken and is slightly reduced, about 20 minutes.
  9. You will need to remove the quail about 10 minutes into the cooking process or it will become tough. If the juices come out clear, the quail is done. Don’t worry about it being too cool; ladle the sauce over it before serving and you’ll be fine.
  10. Cook egg noodles according to package.
  11. Ladle the sauce over the quail and noodles until covered as desired.
  12. Enjoy!

A wine pairing with this dish is quite simple; just drink the left over wine along with it.

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