Quail with Grapes

A quail dish in Burgundy can be as simply done as brushing the cleaned quails with local canola oil, sprinkling them with salt and pepper, and baking 20 minutes or so in a hot oven. A slightly dressier and not much more difficult version uses grapes for stuffing.

Wine suggestions: This is a fairly simple dish that, without much sauce, can go nicely with a fresh, light ’98 Mâcon-Fuissé, but the use of marc in the sauce also ties it in well with a nice fruity Pinot Noir from Beaune or Santenay.

  • 6 quails, plucked and drawn
  • 6 thin pieces pork fat
  • 1-1/4 pounds white grapes
  • 3 ounces Burgundy marc
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 6 ounces butter
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 6 pieces golden-brown toast

Season the inside of the quails with salt and pepper, then stuff with about one-third of the grapes. Truss with a piece of pork fat around each quail. Brown quickly on top of the stove in a heatproof pan big enough to hold 6 quails at once, without any other fat. Discard the melted fat and wipe the bottom of the pan.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan and put back the quails, letting the butter sizzle. Sprinkle with marc, remove from the heat and cover, leaving the quails to absorb the alcohol.

Meanwhile, mash another third of the grapes, and thin the cornstarch in the juice. Pour over the quails. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.

Peel the rest of the grapes and heat in 1 tablespoon of butter until they are no longer transparent. Fry the toast in the rest of the butter. Remove the ties from the quails, arrange the toast on a serving dish, and place a quail on each piece, surrounded by the warm grapes. Cover with sauce and serve immediately.

Published on June 22, 2010