By Garrett Oliver
This recipe works well with any number of stuffings; another favorite is fresh goat cheese. The easiest quail to use are the pre-prepared semi-boneless type, which normally have a V-shaped wire inside the cavity.
Scoop out a large rounded teaspoon of the foie gras mousse. Hold open the cavity of the quail and insert the teaspoon, then pinching with your fingers, pull the mousse off the spoon inside the cavity.
With a needle/thread-like action, pin both ends of the cavity shut with a toothpick.
Coat quail with olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt and a light sprinkling of black pepper.
Prepare a well-heated heavy cast-iron skillet or a wok. With a little olive oil in the skillet, pan-sear the birds, breast-side down, until browned, about 3 or 4 minutes. Turn quail over and sear for 2 more minutes until brown, then remove quail from skillet and set aside.
On a medium boil, reduce the stock until approximately eight ounces of liquid remains.
Peel shallots, mince finely and, using a small skillet, sauté gently in butter until deep golden. Deglaze the shallot pan with four ounces of white wine, turn to a slow simmer.
Add reduced stock and continue simmering. After five minutes, add three tablespoons of medium-grade balsamic vinegar. Continue to simmer until about 6 oz of sauce remains.
Using the flour, make two teaspoons of roux, and use the roux to thicken the sauce. Turn down heat to “warm”, salt to taste if necessary.
Heat broiler (if you don’t have a broiler, heat oven to 450° F) and place quail, breast up, on a baking sheet, foil or Silpat. Place quail in broiler for 3 minutes (or hot oven for 4 minutes), then remove. If any of the foie gras mousse has extruded from the quail, add it to the sauce and whisk in well.
Place each quail breast-up in the center of a warmed plate. Carefully remove all toothpicks, dress each quail with warm sauce, and serve immediately, preferably with a dark abbey ale.