Brine quail for four hours in 2 parts sea salt and 1 part sugar or Splenda. I also like to add a couple of tablespoons of black bean sauce, then water to cover. (For 8 quail, serving four, I would use 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon sugar.) Refrigerate. Remove from brine, rinse to remove excess salt, and pat dry. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
Brown quail in olive oil and a little butter for 10 minutes – both sides evenly brown. A non-stick skillet works well.
Cool and cut each bird into two halves for prettiest presentation. This dish can be prepared to this point several hours ahead. Bring back to room temperature before finishing in oven.
- Finish quail in a 400-degree oven, 8 minutes until juices run clear just before you are ready to serve.
- Reheat Pinot noir sauce while quail is finishing.
PINOT NOIR SAUCE – MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE
Stock: I really like to make my own. When roasting a chicken, or game hens, just save all the left over carcasses and put in a heavy pan with water and a little white wine, if you have any sitting around, carrots, onions, celery and leaves, peppercorns (about 10), and a variety of fresh herbs, but light on the pungent ones such as oregano or rosemary. I use mainly parsley, chives, and thyme. Simmer for at least four hours. Cover partially so all your stock doesn’t evaporate, and only simmer. Strain. Place cooled stock in refrigerator overnight, and remove layer of fat in the morning. Freeze or refrigerate for later use.
Sauce: Start with two cups of broth and 1 cup red wine. Reduce to about 3/4 cup. I also toss in a handful of fresh or frozen berries, plums are excellent, too. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When you have reduced to about 3/4 cup, strain to remove fruit skins, etc., and when ready to serve swirl in butter to taste. Drizzle over quail when you are ready to serve.
And the wine of choice is, of course, Pinot Noir!