Partridge and pears is a classic British combination - especialy around the holidays. Serve this dish and your family and friends will have a certain song stuck in their heads all night. It takes some prep ahead of time, but not long at all to cook on the day of the meal - about 30 minutes.
This recipe is my own, adapted from a few classic ones, and incorportates some beautiful North African flavors that have become classsics at the holiday sesason. The measurements are approximate. Use your heart as a guide. Defrost the birds two days before you cook them for the best results.
- 1 partridge per person (half a bird is a good appetizer portion)
- 2 Williams/Batrlett pears per person
- enough fresh lemon juice to coat the pears
- a tablespoon of good local honey per bird
- a tablespoons of ras al hanout seasoning, (cinnamon, cumin, ginger and black pepper) per bird
- golden raisins, dried aprictos, or another dried fruit of your choice
- fresh parsley and cilantro, chopped finely
- almonds or walnuts, pulveried with a mortar and pestle and toasted lightly
- enough unsalted butter and olive oil to coat the bottom of your large heavy bottomed skillet about a quarter inch.
- a large oven safe, heavy bottomed skillet - cast iron or steel work perfectly.
24-48 hours ahead, lay the partridge out on a baking tray with parchment or silicone pad. You can leave them whole or butterfly them, your choice. Apply a generous portion of coarse salt to the skin of the birds, making sure to get all the nooks and crannies. Put the tray in the refrigerator - uncovered- and let the salt dry the skin. It will darken and crisp. Turn the birds if necessary halfway through in order to expose all sides to open air. This is key to a crispy, well seasoned bird.
Take the birds out of the fridge an hour before you cook them and let them come to room temperature. Season all over with olive oil and ras al hanout.
Put your dried fruit in a little water to plump up.
Peel the pears and cut into quarters. Coat them in fresh lemon juice to stop them from browning.
Preheat your oven to 400 degees F
Heat your skillet, add butter and olive oil, and add the birds when the fat sizzles, Put the whole thing in the oven, and cook for about 10 minutes.
Then take the skillet out, and put it on the stovetop, medium high heat. Using tongs, brown the birds on all sides by turning them, adding more butter if necessary. Baste some of the butter directly onto the breasts and any place that needs better color.
When birds reach 150 degree F at the leg joint, take them out and let them rest, uncovered. You want to serve game birds a little pink, like duck breast.
Now it's time for the pears. In the same skillet, place peeled pear halves, and some more butter if you need it. Carmelize the pears, and add the dried fruit, parsley, coriander, and honey, and cook on low for a few minutes until the sauce thickens a little.
Serve family style, or plate each bird with pear sauce on the side. Garnish with toasted nuts and more fersh herbs. I suggest you put a bowl of extra pears out on the table either way - they will go fast.
Serve with a dry rose, dry white, or even a little pear brandy.
Enjoy your dinner!
I like this recipe because it's easy, versatile, and really delicious. It's also unique (cooked avocado? Yes!), and makes a great presentation dish for kids and company. Brunch is a great meal to pull this out for, or even a healthy after-work snack.
You can spice these however you like, and also add any other veggies to the top or in the roasting pan. Imagine bacon, tomatillo, garlic, thin sliced tomato, cheese, sausage... yum.
Here's what I did. Once you have the basic method, you can make your favorite version.
8 avocado halves, with seeds removed
8 quails eggs
4 tomato halves
1 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon powdered chipotle pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch dried oregano
1 teaspoon + 1 pinch kosher salt
black pepper to taste
half of a lime, juiced
olive or other cooking oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a baking dish, arrange the avocado and tomato halves and so that the cut sides face up. Scoop out a little avocado flesh from each hole to make enough room for the quail egg. Dust avocado and tomato with a pinch of salt. Carefully crack one quail egg into each avocado.
In a small bowl mix all spices and salt together. Then dust it liberally over the tomato and avocado making sure to get the surface of the fruits covered. Pour about 3 table spoons of oil over the pan.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Then check the eggs for doneness. (Some like the yolks runny and some like them hard) Bake until the eggs are at the desired texture and the avocado and tomato are bubbly.
Remove from the oven, squeeze lime juice over the pan, and serve immediately. I served mine as a side with tacos and mango. You could also serve them with hash browns and sausage, or toast. Enjoy!
This is a great recipe because you can literally do anything you want with it and it's a great way to use seasonal veggies (hellooo asparagus and mushrooms). Are you a master home-pizza maker? Want to add something special to a pie from your favorite local pizza joint? Do it. You won't be sorry.
For the pizza above, I used an Iraqi style bread, garlic scape pesto, red bell pepper, sundried tomatoes, mushroom and a dusting of parmesan cheese - which were all things I had in the kitchen already.
Whatever you decide, add quail eggs to your pizza one minute before it's ready to come out of the oven, a little longer if you want them over hard. Serve and ENJOY!
Creme Caramel is a classic French dessert and it's pretty simple to make. It also looks FANTASTIC on the plate. Quail eggs give it an even richer velvety texture, and you can top it with anything you like - seasonal fruit, chocolate sauce, flavored whipped cream... I've added brandied cherries to the top of mine. This recipe makes about 6 one inch deep servings.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Make the Caramel - Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1 cup cold water in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to high. Bring to the boil. Boil, without stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat. Set aside for 2 minutes to allow bubbles to subside. Pour sugar mixture into six 1 cup-capacity, ovenproof ramekins. Set aside to set.
Make the Custard - Combine cream, milk and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes or until small bubbles form at edge of pan. Remove from heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and remaining sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Slowly add cream mixture in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly. When all ingredients are combined, pour the custard over the caramel in your ramekins. Be careful not to go too fast adding your eggs or they will scramble in the milk.
Place dishes in a large baking dish. Pour boiling water into baking dish until halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30 minutes or until just set. Remove baking dish from oven. Remove dishes from water. Set aside to cool. Refrigerate overnight. Run a thin knife around edge of each dish. Turn out onto plates. Garnish and serve.
I am not a kitchen gadget person. I like my tools simple, of good quality, and as few as possible. But if you use quail eggs with any regularity, you know that they can be hard to crack without getting bits of shell into the bowl. That's because quail eggs have a strong membrane under the shell. (Chicken eggs do too, it's just not as thick.)
Do yourself a favor and invest in some quail egg scissors. They're inexpensive and will save you lots of time and energy.
These are the ones I use, but there are many other options.