- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 8 semi-boneless quail
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Â˝ celery stalk, peeled and cut into ÂĽ-inch dice
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 ounces (Â˝ cup) mascarpone
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons green peppercorns in brine, rinsed and drained
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, drained Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Quail are a great bird for grilling or sautĂ©ing, and their succulent dark meat is a rich alternative to the bland white-meat chicken that fills the poultry sections of most supermarkets.
- Bring the cider to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the heat to medium and reduce the cider to Â˝ cup, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- When the cider is cool, stir in the mustard. Toss the quail with the cider reduction in a nonreactive container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Heat the olive oil in a small sautĂ© pan over medium heat. Add the celery and shallots. Cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Mix the vegetables with the mascarpone, thyme, peppercorns, and horseradish. Season with salt and pepper. The mixture will be quite stiff. Divide it equally into 8 portions and form them into ovals. Place them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Freeze until semisolid, about 2 hours. (They have to be at least semi-solid before you use them, or theyâ€™ll melt too fast during cooking; if you want to freeze them for longer, thatâ€™s fine.)
- When ready to cook, place a frozen cheese oval in the cavity of each quail. Thread a toothpick through the skin on either side of the cavity opening to hold the opening shut, or tie the legs together with butcherâ€™s twine to close the cavity. Sprinkle the quail liberally with salt and pepper.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large sautĂ© pan over medium heat. Add the quail breast side down (you may have to cook them in two batches, or use two pans; put the finished birds on a platter in a warm 200Â°F oven) and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Pay close attention to the pan: The cider reduction has a high sugar content, and if it gets too hot, it will start to burn; lower the heat as necessary. Turn the birds over and cook for an additional 10 minutes. At 10 minutes per side, the birds should be cooked medium. An instant read digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg should read 165Â°F for medium. Cook longer if desired. Donâ€™t worry if some of the melted mascarpone starts to leak out after 15 minutes or soâ€”just drizzle it over the quail before serving. Present the platter of quail at the table.