Abita Springs Stuffed Quail
Abita Springs, where I live, is famous for its Quail Farm. In honor of that, I submit this quail dish, which I recommend as an appetizer in a meal in which you’ll be having a seafood entree. It works best if you debone the birds, but this is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Some butchers will do it for you. If deboning is a challenge, you can butterfly the quails and put the stuffing underneath each half. In that case, it will cook a bit faster, so adjust accordingly. The fried eggplant underneath the quails is optional but makes for a grand presentation.
- 1/2 lb. andouille or smoked sausage
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 green onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. marjoram
- 1 cup chopped chicken
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
- 8 quails, rib and back bones removed
- 4 slices lean bacon
- 1 small eggplant, peeled
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1 Tbs. Creole seasoning
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 green onion, tender green parts only, sliced thinly
1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the andouille, bell pepper, green onion and basil until the sausage is lightly browned. Pour off any excess fat.
2. Add the chopped chicken and the stock and bring to a boil. Stir lightly to combine. Reduce the liquid over medium-high heat by about one-third.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs to make a thick stuffing. Cool the stuffing in the refrigerator until cool (but not cold) to the touch.
4. Cut the bacon slices in half. Fry the bacon until it begins to curl, but not turn crisp. Drain and blot with a paper towel.
5. Stuff each of the quails and set on a roasting pan, breast side down. Drape a half-slice of bacon over each quail, like a saddle. Roast for 10-12 minutes on the top rack of a preheated 400 degree oven, until golden brown. (If you have a convection oven, use it.)
6. Slice the eggplant into eight rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Combine egg and milk in a bowl and dip eggplant into it. Combine the flour and Creole seasoning and dredge the eggplant.
7. Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat and sauté the eggplant until golden brown. Drain eggplant and keep warm.
8. Place an eggplant round on each plate, and top with a quail. Garnish with sliced green onions.