ROASTED QUAIL WITH BOURBON-BACON STUFFING
The men in the Brennan family hunt so much (as do most men -- and lots of women -- in Southeast Louisiana) that it was inevitable that their restaurant life and passion for hunting would collide. Years ago, we decided that we loved quail and wanted to have it on our menu permanently, but it was difficult to get a regular supply. No surprise then that it dawned on the Brennan men to ask a hunting friend, who was raising chickens and ducks, to raise quail for us. Quail has been on our menu regularly ever since.
While this quail roasts, it transfers flavorful juices to the moist bourbon stuffing underneath. If you’d like a little sauce to go with your quail, whisk together ½ cup Creole mustard, ¼ cup honey, ¼ cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon bourbon and drizzle over the quail before serving.
3 ounces lean pork such as tenderloin, roughly chopped
2 ½ ounces boneless quail meat, roughly chopped
2 slices bacon, roughly chopped
½ tablespoon bourbon
½ tablespoon ruby Port
½ teaspoon each fresh thyme and sage, chopped
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup pecans, chopped
Prepare bourbon-bacon stuffing: Combine the pork, quail, bacon, liquors, herbs, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stuffing can be made up to this point 1 day ahead, covered, and chilled. Pass the stuffing twice through the smallest die of a meat grinder, keeping the ingredients as cold as possible. (Alternately, pulse the stuffing ingredients in a food processor until nearly smooth.) Transfer the stuffing to a clean bowl and fold in pecans.
Preheat the oven to 350º F.
Four 5 to 6-ounces semi-boned quail
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Divide the stuffing into four equal portions, forming each into a ball, and transfer to a work surface. Season both sides of quail with salt and pepper and drape quail over stuffing, wrapping it around stuffing to resemble a whole quail. Transfer quail to a baking sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 140 F. Remove quail from the oven and let rest in a warm area for 10 minutes.