Quail with tarragon

Quail with tarragon, served with wet polenta and brocollini

I love this dish. I fell in love with quail when I was living by myself. Bird for one I called it. Sometimes I still cook it up when I’ve the patience for the bones. We had a bit of a special dinner on Friday and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I would normally add lemon zest to this marinade, but had a little in both my entree and dessert, so I pulled the lemon. Feel free to add it when you make this though. It adds a lovely zing.

Serves 4

4 quails
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon whole pepperberries
1 generous pinch salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon white wine

Debone the quail, leaving only the wing and leg bones, cutting into four pieces each; two breasts with wings attached, and two marylands. If you haven’t any interest in doing this, feel free to have the birds butterflied by the butcher and use them as is. But you’ll need to deal with the bones at the table.

Grind the pepperberries and salt in a mortar and pestle. Once you have a relatively fine powder, add the olive oil and combine. Pour the mixture over the quail, add the tarragon and combine (this is the point you can add the grated zest of a lemon). Marinade for at least an hour.

In a small saucepan, simmer the chicken stock to reduce by at least a half.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. When it’s hot, arrange the quail in the pan, cooking till well browned all over. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduced chicken stock reduction. Simmer till the liquid is syrupy and the quail are tender.

Serve the quail with pan juices, wet polenta and steamed greens.

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