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Iron Skillet Quail (with a few sides)

Even The Babe had a slump now and then.  I’m not comparing myself to him, of course…I’m not from the Bronx, nor do I play baseball. And I’m certainly not fat.

I’m just saying, it’s been a while since I cooked anything worth sharing.  That, and my analogies stink.

That all changed Monday.  Jenn and I were doing some shopping at Central Market, and had already picked up some fiddle heads, when Jenn spied quail at the meat counter.”I want that,” she said. 

One thing I am is well-trained. So quail for dinner it was.

Iron Skillet Quail (with a few sides)

What You Need

For the quail

2 quail, deboned except for legs & wings
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground fennel seed
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lime

For the sides

1/2 cup fiddle heads
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp butter
1 basil leaf, chiffonaded

3 crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 shallot, finely diced
1 yellow squash, sliced
4 leaves of tarragon, minced

1/4 cup black quinoa

What To Do With It

Tie together the legs of the quail at the bottom (just to make them behave a little better when you’re cooking them).

Mix together the rest of your ingredients into a paste and spread on the quail on both sides. Let sit at room temperature for 1.5-2 hours.

20 minutes before you want to eat, turn an oven to 400, heat a small skillet over low heat (and put in the butter, basil & garlic to awaken it) and put about 2 cups of water on to boil.  Rinse your quinoa until the water is no longer cloudy. Drizzle the mushrooms, squash and shallots with olive oil, add a couple pinches of salt and the tarragon, and transfer to an oven-safe dish.

At the 15-minute mark (or once your oven is preheated and your water boiling), put the mushrooms in the oven and the quinoa in the water (once that starts to boil again, turn it down to a simmer).  Turn your small skillet up to medium-low and add the fiddle heads with a pinch of salt. 

Continue to stir the quinoa and keep an eye on the fiddle heads (when they turn a bright green, let them cook another two minutes and they’re done: turn off the heat, but leave them in the pan). At about the 6-minute mark, turn the heat under a cast iron skillet to medium high.

With 4 1/2 minutes to go, drizzle some olive oil in your cast iron skillet, get it coated, and put in the quail for just over 2 minutes a side.

Plate it all up and enjoy (any time other than a couple weeks in spring, you won’t be able to have the fiddle heads).   We served this with a Dis-Tinto wine (50/50 syrah/tempranillo), which didn’t go too badly, but fought with the fiddle heads a bit.