Quail With Dried Cherries And Pinot Noir

Susan Spicer is one of New Orleans’ most celebrated chefs–and it’s not merely because she’s one of the handful of accomplished female culinarians in America. I find her imagination to be most fertile, and it’s tempered by uncommonly accurate good taste. This dish plays the cherrylike aspects of California Pinot Noir wine against real cherries. Dried cherries, which might be a little hard to find, are to cherries what raisins are to grapes. (You could probably get away with using fresh cherries in this.)

Quail with sun-dried cherries and Pinot Noir.

Quail with sun-dried cherries and Pinot Noir.

  • 8 quails, partially deboned
  • 2 oz. dried cherries
  • 1 1/4 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1 French dried shallot, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup strong quail or chicken stock
  • 2 Tbs. currant jelly
  • 2 Tbs. butter, softened
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 oz. bag fresh spinach

1. Plump the dried cherries in 1/4 cup of the wine for 2 hours.

2. In a small saucepan, reduce the wine with the shallots and the tarragon to about half its original volume. Add the quail stock and currant jelly. Reduce until somewhat syrupy. Whisk in the butter and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

3. Season the quails with salt and pepper and grill or saute until done–about four minutes, depending on size.

4. With the water clinging to leaves after washing, wilt the spinach in a large pot over medium heat. The leaves should keep a little bit of body.

5. Place the spinach on a plate. Top with two quails per person. Surround the plate with the sauce, making sure everyone gets a few cherries.

Serves four.

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