Mother Earth Living

Wild Game: Sautéed Quail Breast Recipe

Use this restaurant-ready recipe for sautéed quail breast when you want to pull out all of the stops for guests.
Recipe Courtesy Chef Scott Staples, Restaurant Zoë, Seattle
September/October 2006
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Use this restaurant-ready recipe for sautéed quail breast when you want to pull out all of the stops for guests.
Photo By Susan Seubert

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Sautéed Quail Breast 
Serves 6

This is a simplified version of Chef Staples’ elaborate original. Use this restaurant-ready recipe when you want to pull out all of the stops for guests.

6 quail breasts with skin
1/4 cup olive oil, or enough to coat quail breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup red wine
4 to 5 tablespoons cold butter
1-1/2  pounds fresh spinach, washed, stems and other debris removed

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Preheat a large sauté pan over the highest temperature. Coat quail breasts generously with olive oil, then season both sides with salt and pepper.

3. Place quail breasts into pan skin side down. Leave flame on high long enough for the pan to recover its heat, then turn flame down to medium or medium high. The object is to sear the breasts quickly so they stay rare but the skin is dark golden brown. Once you’ve achieved that, remove breasts and place them skin side up on a small sheet pan. Set aside.

4. In a saucepan, reduce chicken stock by half; then add red wine and reduce by half again. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

5. In a separate sauté pan, melt 2 to 3 tablespoons butter. Add spinach and lightly sauté until brightly colored and wilted. Remove from heat and cover. Set aside.

6. Pour off any fat from the sauté pan used to sear the quail. Add wine-stock reduction to the pan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Whisk in 2 tablespoons cold butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

7. Place breasts, spinach and sauce, along with 6 plates for serving, in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes.

8. Divide spinach among the 6 plates, placing it in a 3-inch-diameter circle in the center. Place each quail breast on top of spinach. Spoon red-wine sauce over the breast and around the plate.

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