Roast Quail with Apples and Georgia Pecans
- Serves 4
Throughout the season, quail is always on the Highlands menu. Because of their size, quail make a perfect appetizer. We stuff them with ham, tasso, chicken liver, foie gras, crawfish, or cornbread. Our quail come from a farm in South Carolina, but most butchers or specialty markets sell semi-boneless quail, ideal for stuffing. The flavor of good, tart apples and aged balsamic vinegar makes a wonderfully savory, yet light, wintertime first course.
- 2 firm tart apples, such as Fuji, Braeburn, or Granny Smith
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 2 shallots, diced
- 1 cup crumbled corn bread
- 1/4 cup chicken broth or canned low-sodium broth
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
- 1/2 cup Georgia pecans, lightly toasted, half roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 semi-boneless quail, wing tips trimmed, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
- 2 cups mixed lettuce, such as oak leaf, loll rosa, arugula, and/or mizuna, trimmed, washed, and dried
- 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Quarter and core the apples. Dice half of them and set aside. Thinly slice the remainder lengthwise and set aside.
In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, celery, shallots, and the diced apples and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the crumbled corn bread, then add the chicken broth, melted butter, thyme, and chopped pecans and toss thoroughly with your hands to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the cavity of each quail with salt and pepper, then stuff a little of the corn bread mixture inside. Season the outside of the quail with salt and pepper and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
Heat the olive oil over high heat in a heavy ovenproof sauté pan just large enough to hold the quail without touching each other. Add the quail and sear, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the quail, for 6 to 9 minutes; the breast meat should still be rosy in color.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the lettuce with the remaining apples and pecans and just enough of the vinaigrette to coat.
Remove the string from the quail. Arrange the salad on serving plates and place the quail alongside. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over each quail and serve.