QUAIL, FOIE GRAS, APPLE

Foie gras stuffed quail, flambéed with Calvados, roasted apples, seared raw foie gras escalopes, celeriac purée


A bird already raised by the Egyptians

Quails are game birds and, furthermore, migratory birds, which explains why their wings are quite developed, unlike most of poultry species, and they can fly, and glide, on long distances, from Africa to England, for instance, for the European species. Some mountain species are also said to migrate from the high mountains to the valleys... walking! But the story doesn't say if they have developed as strong legs as those wings developed by the "flying" migratory quails.
But quails are also birds that that are very commonly raised, and this is not recent as they were already raised by the Egyptians 2000 BC. Among all the people employed at building the pyramids, there was a category of people dedicated to grow cereals and some to raise quails, in order to feed all this manpower...

La Butte aux Cailles

For the record, if you go to Paris and since we are talking about quails (cailles in French), don't forget to visit the Butte aux Cailles, in the 13th arrondissement, a quartier (neighborhood) looking like a little village, just inside Paris intra muros. That said, although the name means literally the Quails Hill, it is not sure that there were really quails. Indeed, the butte was named after a certain Monsieur Caille who acquired it in 1543!

Back to today's actual quails: here is the recipe that I imagined for this New Year lunch.

Ingredients (8 servings)

  • 8 quails of around 4 oz each
  • 1.5 lb of raw foie gras cubes (much cheaper and as good as medallions or whole foie gras), i.e. 1 lb. for the stuffing and 0,5 lb. (the most presentable pieces, to keep in the fridge or to place in the freezer) for the mini escalopes
  • 3 apples (Pink Lady in this case)
  • Handful of raisins
  • Tale bread (around 4/5 oz)
  • Around 1 oz of mushrooms (portobello, shitake...)
  • 1 egg (in fact, I used here 4 quail eggs)
  • 1 glass of Calvados (apple brandy), i.e. 1/2 glass for the stuffing, 1/2 glass to flambée the birds, and 1 tbsp. to deglaze (I know, it is more than 1 glass)
  • 1 celeriac root
  • 4 oz. of crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • 2 oz. of butter
  • 1 tbsp. of cider vinegar
  • salt, piment d'Espelette

Recipe

The stuffing:
  • Cut the stuffing foie gras in dices, season with the salt and the piment, and marinate it, with the raisins, in the stuffing Calvados for around 1 hour in the fridge
  • Chop the mushrooms and heat them in a pan, with no fat, at high temperature for around 5 minutes or till they render a maximum of water (you don't want it in your stuffing)  
  • After 1 hour, take the foie gras from the fridge, cook it rapidly (2 to 3 minutes) in a pan with the raisins and the calvados
  • Pour the whole in a bowl, add the egg, the tale bread cut or crushed in pieces, stir up and let the bread absorb the marinade
  • Add the mushrooms and the egg, mix the whole with a wooden spoon or your hand, and mix it in the blender, by series of few seconds and for 30/40 seconds maximum in order to keep it some texture
  • Reserve in the fridge
The quails - part 1:
  • Get the stuffing out of the fridge and fill generously each quail with the stuffing
  • Season the quails outside
  • Wrap the quails in a transparent film, and then in a second one. Beware of not punching the second film with those bird sharp leg bones
  • Poach the quails in boiling water for 10 minutes after water gets back to boiling
  • Take out and reserve in the fridge (this can be done in advance, for instance the morning for the evening)
The celeriac purée:
  • Peel and cut the celeriac in medium size chunks
  • Cook it in salted boiling water till cooked but still firm
  • Finish to cook it in the oven with a few foie gras trims for 10/15 minutes or till tender
  • Put it in a bowl with the crème fraîche or heavy cream, and mix it with a blending arm for a rough texture as here (or in a Vitamix-type blender for a creamy texture)
  • Add butter, whisk it
  • Adjust the seasoning and reserve in 250F preheated oven
The foie gras mini escalopes:
  • Take the foie gras mini escalopes out of the fridge or the freezer (the colder, the better)
  • Sear them in a very hot pan, till caramelizing on each side
  • Reserve in the 250F oven to finish cooking them inside / keeping them hot
The quails - part 2:
  • Remove the two films from the quails. They should kept a compact form
  • Place them in the same pan in which you just cooked the foie gras and which you have kept hot, and roll them so that they are consistently coated with the fat rendered by the foie gras
  • Add the remaining calvados and flambé it, moving your pan so that the brandy covers well the birds
  • When all the alcohol has evaporated, finish roasting gently the quails at low/medium temperature, turning them regularly, for around 5/6 minutes, till they take a nice golden brown color and, as you estimate, are hot inside
  • Reserve in the 250F oven with the foie gras  
The apples:
  • Cut the apples in 24 1/8 wedges
  • Roast them in the same pan in which you have seared the foie gras and flambé the quails (good news for the dishwasher!), on each side till they take a nice golden color on each side
Plating:
  • Plate the quails (as I had some puff pastry left, I placed them on a puff pastry rectangular support), the apples, the celeriac purée and the foie gras mini escalope
  • Deglaze the "common" pan with 1 tbsp. of cider vinegar and with a tbsp. of Calvados and pour 1/2 tsp. of this nectar on each plate

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