I’ve never stuffed quail before, so I did reference a web link for timings, which sounds excellent in its own right (although I’d probably skip the bread crumbs). You can check out Emeril Lagasse here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/mushroom-stuffed-quail-recipe2/index.html (Mushroom-Stuffed Quail).
This I consider a “weekend dish” as there are too many steps involved for a weekday night.
Eggplant: One medium/small. You won’t be stuffing with the whole thing (it would NEVER fit!), but stuffing is also excellent served on the side.
Quail: Two. Partially de-boned (preferably by your butcher or your supplier. I think if I de-boned mine myself, there wouldn’t be anything left!)
Garlic: about half a head. Remove outer skin and cut off tips, and roast with the eggplant, see below.
Small tomato or kumato, diced.
1 half teaspoon each: Ground pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander. (I eyeballed these amounts).
Optional: A little cheese, Fontina or similar.
How to: Remove ends on your eggplant, slice into 1/3 – 1/2 inch slices, put into a pan containing cold water with salt and the juice from either a whole lime or half a lemon, weigh the slices down with a bowl or something, let soak for 30 minutes. This keeps the eggplant sort of whitish, and draws out any bitterness. (If you use Asian eggplants, you don’t need to worry about bitterness, and in that case, go leave out the salt, or at least most of the salt.)
Meanwhile: Pre-heat your oven to 375 F.
Meanwhile: Put your quail into a bowl and drop in about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of coconut aminos (or a quality tamari/soy sauce, if you’d prefer. This is QUAIL, I am going the extra mile…) . Put back in the fridge to marinate. Turn it occasionally.
Meanwhile: soak two wooden skewers in water. I’m figuring this is going to be the best way to hold stuffing together inside a bird. You don’t want wood catching fire.
When the eggplant has finished soaking, rinse quickly, then layer, wrap in foil, with garlic as mentioned above, and ground pepper and yes, the olive oil. Mix with your hands before wrapping. Place in oven for 40-45 minutes. Keep the layers small, no more than two across. Otherwise you will be here forever. When done pull out of oven and allow to cool down to where you can handle them with your fingers. Scoot roasted garlic cloves out of their shell, and remove skin from eggplant, especially if they are the regular English ones — Asian eggplants have thinner, and actually-tasty skin. (You could have removed skin earlier, but it falls off fairly nicely now…)
Turn heat in oven down to 350 F.
In a skillet, while eggplants and garlic are cooling: Take mushrooms – you can use anything you like but I used a mix of portobello and shiitake. Slice thin, then dice. Saute with your preferred choice of oil or butter. Add in one small tomato, chopped up – I used a kumato, which are a special brown tomato currently on sale locally around here.
Then: Chop and or mash after the above skin removal, add to skillet with the mushrooms. Add ground pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander, and mix on low heat for about five-ten minutes.
Bring out your quail and stuff them with the hot eggplant mix, using the skewer sticks – break them in half – to hold the flaps of bird together. Place in the 350 degree oven and allow cook for 25-30 minutes. If desired, for the last five minutes, add a slice of cheese over each stuffed breast. Keep the leftover stuffing warm at a slow simmer, or alternatively, reserve some of it for future meals, as you will notice in my next post.
Serve hot, with a salad of your choice, more of the stuffing, and perhaps a dry white wine. You’ll need to eat these using your fingers. Very tender and flavorful.