COOKING WITH PARIND: Try quail for some fresh, local flavor
Hello everyone. My name is Parind Vora. In this column we talk cooking, tricks to cooking and sometimes eating.
This month I thought we would take time to talk local. We happen to have some great cooking resources right at home, and one of them is quail from Texas Quail Farms https://texquail.com/. We are going to use the whole quail, which is readily available in central Texas…. Even in Lockhart!
Remember that quail is cooked like a steak. Not chicken. You can and should eat quail Medium rare to medium like a high quality steak. But if you cook it more than that it will taste gamy, dry and crumbly. As Sheriff Buford T. Justice said, “you can think about it….but don’t do it”!
Take the 4-6oz quail check for pin bones and smell it. Freshness is always important but so is how things are stored. When you buy retail you should assess the quality of how it’s kept. Once you have assessed that the quality is good we are ready to think about how we are going to cook it.
Today we will make ‘Pan roasted Lockhart quail with pan fried butternut squash and local honey and chili pequin gastrique (think sweet & sour)’. We will use 2 quails as we are making a main course.
One thing I highly suggest is having a ‘sani-bucket’ to sanitize cooking surfaces. The easiest way is make it with 1-gallon cold (never hot) water and 1 capful (tablespoon) of bleach to make a 200ppm sanitizer. Use a kitchen towel or a square cut from a clean old shirt for that purpose.
Dip the cloth in the sanitizer solution and lightly wring out and use to wipe any surface that has touched raw meat/fish
2 whole semi-boneless Lockhart quail
½ cup local honey
½ cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
knife crushed fresh chili pequin (I use them because they grow wild on my property) but any fresh hot pepper will work.
2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of finely diced onions
Freshly ground coarse black pepper
2-3 sticks of butter
1- 2 springs of fresh rosemary
¼ cup of olive oil
1 cup of fresh butternut squash diced
Juice from ½ a lemon
1 cup of baby arugula seasoned very lightly with salt & pepper and dressed with very little olive oil & lemon juice
Pour 2 cup of vegetable oil in a pan and heat until at 350 degrees F (use a candy thermometer). Add one sprig of rosemary & the diced butternut squash until the edges are brown. Use a slotted spoon to take out the squash and season with salt, pepper, lemon juice & olive oil and set aside to keep warm. Shut off the flame and let the oil cool to room temperature and reserve in a metal container to use later.
Heat a dry frying pan (not a non-stick pan) for a minute or two on medium heat. As it’s heating, season the front and back of the quail with salt and pepper and set them aside. Put the quails in the dry, now hot pan breast side down. Add a little vegetable oil right at the outer edge of the quail. Let sear until the edges turn dark brown. Now add the chilies, diced onions, rosemary springs, sliced garlic and ½ stick of butter. Turn the quails over and swirl the pan so the onion/garlic mix turns translucent and the butter is melted. Keep basting the quails until the feel like a medium rare steak at the breast. Set aside and keep warm, as they will need to rest for 2 minutes.
In the pan add the honey and increase the heat to medium high and cook until the honey starts to brown and caramelize. Instantly add the cider vinegar and the ½ – 1 teaspoon (depending on your taste) of the black pepper. Let reduce slightly and shut off the heat and quickly add ½ stick of butter and keep swirling until the sauce is thickened slightly and shiny. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed to your tastes.
To plate: Take a big plate and put the squash in the center and put the two quails on each side. Coat very generously with the sauce. Top with the dressed baby arugula.
Enjoy this local and fancy, well-seasoned meal.V
Video by Mike Angelo Torres