Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pan-Seared Quail & Red Wine Risotto with Arugula, Anjou Pear, Pomegranate and 15 Year-Old Balsamic

Pan-Seared Quail & Red Wine Risotto with Arugula, Anjou Pear, Pomegranate and 15 Year-Old Balsamic
by Sarah Kwan
The Wine Dive recommends Simply Naked Cabernet Sauvignon to be paired with this dish.

When plated, this quail, with its legs outstretched, looks as if will dance right off your plate and into your mouth. The bitterness of the arugula perfectly cuts the richness of the risotto, pomegranate provides tart bursts of fresh juice, and the pear adds sweetness and crunch.

For each serving:

1 quail (the ones I used averaged 4.75 ounces)
1 allspice berry
1/8 teaspoon grains of paradise
1/4 teaspoon salt (sea or kosher)
1 clove garlic, peeled & halved
1 sprig thyme

Partially debone quail:
-remove the neck
-pull the skin back until you locate the wishbone. Cut around the wishbone with a sharp knife, then pull out with fingers.
-find and sever shoulder joints.
-with fingers and a small knife, separate the breast meat from the bone; do the same at the back, until you reach the thighs.
-remove torso bones.

Rinse the quail and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a spice grinder or mortar & pestle, crush together the allspice, grains of paradise, and salt.

Rub the salt/spice mixture all around the outside of the quail.

Fold up the sprig of thyme to fit, and place thyme and garlic inside the cavity.

Allow the quail to rest for 4-6 hours.

Red Wine Risotto:
100 gram arborio rice
12 gram unsalted butter
150 ml chicken stock, heated until simmering
150 ml dry red wine, warmed (I used a full-bodied, extra dry 2008 Montecillo Crianza la Rioja)
50 gram Spanish onion, minced
50 gram coarsely grated Parmesan
12 ml unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon 15-year old balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

In a pot, melt 12 gram of butter over medium heat until sizzling, then add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent.

Add the rice and stir to coat the rice grains with butter, cooking for 2 minutes.

Add a third of the red wine, stirring, until liquid is completely absorbed. Repeat until the wine is gone.

Add the chicken stock in thirds, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed each time before adding more. Cook until rice is al dente - tender but still chewy in texture.

Remove from the heat and stir in 12 gram of butter, Parmesan and balsamic vinegar. Add salt to taste.

Cooking the quail:
1 Tablespoon duck fat

Melt the duck fat in a pan over medium heat.

Place the quail breast side down and sear for 5 minutes, pressing down slightly, so that all of the skin makes contact with the pan.

Flip and cook for 6 minutes, pressing down for 3 minutes on one leg, then the other. If the wings are not crisped, position bird so that the wings become crispy as well - approximately 30 seconds for each wing.

Set aside and let rest while you plate the risotto.

1 1/2 Tablespoons pomegranate arils
handful of arugula leaves
anjou pear (or a mildly sweet, firm and slightly crisp variety with a thin skin), cut into matchsticks
3/4 teaspoon 15-year old balsamic vinegar

Place a few leaves of arugula in the bottom of the plate. Heap risotto on top and scatter the remaining arugula on top.

Scatter the pomegranate arils over the risotto.

Top the risotto with the pear.

Halve the quail lengthwise and remove the garlic and any twigs from the thyme. Place one half on the risotto cut side down; then the second on top with the leg pointing up, tucking the second piece between the wing and leg of the first half to keep it upright.

Finish with a ring of balsamic vinegar, and serve.

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