Quails in Rosemary, Garlic and Red Wine SauceHome >> Recipes
It is a rare blessing to have a dish you can prepare in only 20 minutes that makes a lasting gastronomic impression on your guests. This one is so easy to cook I sometimes feel I am cheating my guests out of the time and care they usually see in my cooking. But there is a case to be made for simple Italian dishes, and this one definitely has a lot going for it.
The other day I made it for my dad and served the quails over a delicious quash risotto. I could not believe my ears when my dad asked to eat the risotto first and then the quails. He was right, the risotto's flavor and delicate balance was overwhelmed by the intensity of the garlic-rosemary quail tomato sauce. From now on I'll serve it, like you see here, over a bed of polenta.
8 gloves garlic
200gr (1 cup) puréed tomato
12dl (half a cup) red wine
1 dried chili
2 twigs rosemary
Salt and pepper
The ladies at the River Café are adamant that Cabernet Sauvignon is the best wine for this dish but I tried several reds and got good results so don't give up on this dish just because you don't have Cabernet Sauvignon. Much more important is the quality of the rosemary. If it doesn't smell like heaven from a distance, go find another bunch of rosemary or cook this some other time. The rosemary's intense fragrance will dominate the dish and once you have tasted it with an exceptional rosemary, you can't go back. Dry rosemary is possible too if it smells nice. But how do you tell good rosemary from bad one? Well, if you have to ask, then you don't have the right rosemary. As for the chili, I use a dried Mexican serrano chili for this dish but you could use any dried red chili and still obtain an exceptional dish.
In a heavy-bottomed pot sauté the washed quails and garlic cloves cut in half lenghtwise in a bit of olive oil. Salt and pepper. On the picture I used Cailles des Dombes - French quails who cost about $5 each.
Pour half the wine and let boil for a minute, then add the tomato paste and the rosemary.
Cover and cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes or until the quails are cooked. I usually leave them slightly pinkish in the core. Add remaining wine and cook a further 2 minutes uncovered.
Serve one quail per guest as a first course or light second course, or two quails as a hearty only course. I sometimes cook this on week nights, very conforting food indeed.
You will do this dish again and again. Make sure you don't put too much wine otherwise the sauce will be runny. You want a thick sauce that will stick to the meat.
I re-did this dish with risotto for guests who didn't care for polenta. Slightly improved presentation but still miles to go. Try this at home and send me a picture!