Quail With Stuffed Cabbage Leaves


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It was raining today and I had a whole day with no plans. So, off I went on the hunt for something different for dinner. I hadn’t had quail in a long time so settled on this lovely Spanish dish. The combination of quail and cabbage is great, especially when the cabbage is stuffed with this tasty pork mixture. This dish is not really an everyday meal, but it’s great for a dinner party or if you want to cheer up your miserable partner (Brendan).



For the stuffing:
1 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
1 teaspoons milk
250g pork mince
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped proscuitto ham
1 small egg (beaten)
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
1 garlic clove (minced)
2 pinches dried thyme
2 pinches dried oregano

Other ingredients:
6 cabbage leaves
4 quail (spatchcock style)
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion (finely chopped)
1/4 cup leek (finely chopped)
1/2 carrot (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons celery (finely chopped)
1 garlic clove (minced)
1 small tomato (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
1 bay leaf
2 pinches dried oregano
3/4 cup white wine

For the Picado:
1 garlic clove (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley
pinch of saffron threads

To spatchcock the quail, cut along the spine of the bird with a pair of kitchen scissors then turn over and flatten out. Set aside.
Blanch the cabbage leaves by bringing a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 2 leaves and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove and repeat for the remaining leaves. Cool and they become pliable enough to wrap with.
To make the stuffing, combine all the ingredients by hand. Place 2 tablespoons of the mixture in the centre of one of the cabbage leaves. Wrap in the two sides, then the top and bottom. With a pice of cooking twine, tie the leaves like a mini parcel to secure. Repeat for the remaining leaves. Dust the little parcels in flour and set aside.

In a large, non-stick pan heat a tablespoon of the oil over a medium heat. Fry the quail to brown slightly on either side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the cabbage leaves to the pan and gently fry them until they are brown on either side. Remove from the pan and sit with the quail.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and saute the onion, leek, carrot, celery and garlic for 4-5 minutes until nice and soft. Add to the pan the tomato, parsley, oregano and bay leaf with a little salt & pepper. Saute for a further 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of flour, stir then pour in the wine, let it sizzle for 30 seconds then add 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir well, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Return the cabbage and quail to the pan, cover again and simmer for 30 minutes turning a couple of times.

Meanwhile, mash together the “Picado” ingredients in a pestle & mortar and set aside.

Remove the cabbage and quail from the pan and then pass the liquid through a fine sieve, pressing with a spoon to extract the maximum liquid. Discard the solids. Return the strained liquid to the pan and stir in the picado. Return the quail and the cabbage to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes, covered. Just before serving, remove the string from the cabbage.

I served simply with mashed potato and baby peas.

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