Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another Nod to the Season with My Good Friend Dan

I'm very excited about Thanksgiving this year.  Once again I will avoid having to cook for 17 people and I'm heading to Chicago to spend the holiday with Kevin's family.  My mother will be joining us as well this year. (It's like the opposite of most holidays where Kevin's mother celebrates with my family.)  It will be her first time ever in Chicago, so she's very excited.   It will be a nice relaxing holiday since no one has to cook!  We will be back in the same restaurant as last year. 

I'm looking forward to eating in Chicago restaurants.  I can't wait to trash them.  I want to make snarky remarks about kitschy decor and take offensive photos of lamb chops!  (Can you tell I'm really hoping that my brother-in-law is reading this post?  Hi Bob!)

I still had to make one more meal before we left.  I wanted to make something that would remind me of Thanksgiving, but wouldn't actually be too Thanksgiving-like.  I don't know if I'll decide to have a traditional turkey dinner in the restaurant on Thanksgiving day, but I figured it was best to err on the side of caution and make a dinner that was a little different. 

I knew I wanted to make a poultry dish, but which poultry would I choose?  Last week I made a meat loaf with that beloved Thanksgiving meat, turkey.  What would I use for my last dinner before vacation?  Chicken? Duck?

I saw these quails in the freezer at Whole Paycheck and decided it was time to try cooking them.  Experimentation is good for the soul.

I had no idea what the best way to cook them was.  There was a recipe on the side of the package for making them with mushrom stuffing, but I had other ideas for how I wanted to flavor them.  Do I wrap them in bacon?  Put them on skewers?  Pan fry? Roast?

I had a pre-Thanksgiving chat with a friend on the phone while trying to figure this all out.  I said I was trying to figure out how to cook Dan and Marilyn.  He told me not to serve a potatoe with them.  Will anyone reading this laugh at the 20-year-old political humor?

I decided to go with roast.  Jamie Oliver's book Jamie's Italy had a method for roasting quails.  Granted he suggested covering them with pancetta, which I didn't do, and it probably would have moistened the meat a bit more.  I did rest them on a bed of fresh herbs as Jamie suggested though.  I went out on my balcony to pick the thyme and rosemary.  It was a horrific, rainy, chilly night and the 30 seconds I spent out there cutting herbs was torture.  The things I do to feed my family!
What was my sauce? Cranberries!  That was my nod to the season.  I like how at Whole Paycheck I can get loose bulk cranberries so I don't have to buy way more than I need. 

I went a little crazy and decided to try them with tangerines and port wine.  I just went nuts.  I was inspired somewhat by my mother's delicious port-ginger cranberry sauce.

The sauce had a little bitterness that I wasn't fond of, but otherwise had good flavor.  The quails were a tad dry but the flavor was decent.  They are really hard to eat.  You have to work hard for very little meat.  Not sure I'll make them again, but I'm glad I did the experiment.

See you all after Thanksgiving.  Hope you have a wonderful celebration with family and friends and delicious food.  I will leave you contemplating the myster of whether or not I will actually order the traditional turkey dinner...

Wishing you all a very happy happy happy Thanksgiving.  Hope you enjoy your meals and your loved ones, however you decide to celebrate.

Quail with Cranberry Tangerine Sauce

Ingredients for Quails
  • 4 quails
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Several sprigs of rosemary and thyme
  • 4 Tbl butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sweet wine
Ingredients for Sauce
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 cup port wine
  • Juice of 2 tangerines
  • 3 Tbl honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 Tbl butter
In a small saucepan combine cranberries, juice, wine, honey and cinnamon stick.  Place the peppercorns in a tea ball or cheesecloth bag and add to the pan (you don't want to have to be picking peppercorns out of your sauce later).  Bring to a boil.   Reduce to a simmer and simmer about an hour, letting sauce reduce and craberries soften and lose their shape.  Remove peppercorns and cinnamon stick.  Stir in butter.

Meanwhile heat your oven to 375.  Brush your quails with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place each quail on a bed of rosemary and thyme sprigs on a baking sheet.

Roast 35 minutes.  About halfway through cooking pour the butter and wine over the quails.

Serve quails with sauce. This recipe serves two.

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