Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quail with Oyster Stuffing: A Twist on Tradition Thanksgiving Menu

Two quintessentially autumnal tastes come together in this elegant dish. If you can't find a butcher to bone the quail and don’t know how to do it yourself, the recipe works equally well with the bones intact, although you won't be able to fit as much stuffing in the cavities.

8–10 servings

2 day-old baguettes
½ pound smoked bacon, sliced
3–4 tablespoons lard
6–8 shallots, peeled and finely chopped (2 cups)
1½ cups chopped celery
6 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh French tarragon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon verbena
3 tablespoons fresh chervil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
24–36 fresh, shucked Maryland oysters or 1 pint preshucked oysters with liquor
2–3 cups chicken, duck, or turkey stock (preferably homemade)
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
10 quail
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the baguettes into ¾-inch cubes; you should have about 12 cups. Spread the bread cubes in two shallow baking pans or a large sheet tray and toast until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the bread cubes from the oven and cool, leaving the oven on.
  2. Chop the bacon into ½-inch pieces. Render the fat in a large skillet over medium heat, cooking until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside on a paper towel. Measure the bacon fat remaining in the skillet and add lard until you have ½ cup fat. Put the fat back in the skillet.
  3. Add the shallots, celery, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste to the skillet, and sautรฉ over medium heat until the shallots are translucent; transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the bread cubes, bacon, thyme, tarragon, lemon verbena, chervil, sage, parsley, melted butter, and oysters and their liquor. Ladle on stock until the stuffing is moist, but not swimming in liquid, and then season with the Old Bay and more salt and pepper to taste; toss well. Taste to ensure proper seasoning.
  4. Bone the quail, leaving just the two wing bones and two leg (drum) bones for integrity; remove all thigh, rib, and other bones completely. Season the inside of each quail lightly with salt and pepper. Fill each quail with about ½ cup of the stuffing, making sure that each quail has at least 2 or 3 oysters.
  5. Put any remaining oyster stuffing in a well-buttered 8- by 12-inch shallow, ceramic baking dish. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes, and then uncover and bake about 20 minutes longer, until the top is browned.
  6. Heat the oil and the 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet, capable of holding at least 5 quail, until the oil and butter dance together quickly in the pan. Season the outside of each quail with a liberal amount of salt and add it to the hot pan, breast side down. When each breast is nicely browned, remove it from the skillet and place it on a baking sheet, breast side up. When all of the quail breasts are seared and browned, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Note: The stuffing can be assembled ahead and held in the refrigerator (unbaked and without oysters) for two to three days. When ready to use, bring the stuffing to room temperature, and then add the oysters.
Excerpted from Dishing Up® Maryland © 2010 by Lucie L. Snodgrass. All rights reserved.

Go to: A Twist on Tradition Thanksgiving Menu for more great Thanksgiving recipes.

No comments: