Quail Cassoulet


In the south, Bobwhite Quail hunting is deeply rooted in it’s history  and hunting traditions.  As quickly as quail season approaches, it seemingly ends.  We can extend the season with lasting memories of the hunt while cooking and enjoying some of our harvested birds.   

Just like my passion for hunting, I have a passion for cooking.  My first culinary cooking classes took place while living in New York,  at the French Culinary and the Institute of Culinary Education.  Along with that, I did a wine internship at  Baltazar’s an Iconic French Brasserie.  I also imported and sold wines from France & Europe.  So needless to say, French cuisine and wines have a special place in my heart.   When we lived in New York, one of our favorite places to dine was Quercy in Brooklyn. It was a small local French restaurant within walking distance of our apartment.   Although they have closed, we still dream about the food.  On a cold night, our go to and favorite dish was Cassoulet with a French Cote du Rhone and a warm piece of bread.  Traditionally, cassoulet is made with Duck Leg confit and assorted duck or pork sausage along with Tarbais Beans.  

This dish takes time to prepare.  So, it’s best spaced over a few days.  This play on a traditional recipe is meant for easier access to products in your local store or quail, pheasant, duck or turkey you have harvested.  For a play on the traditional fare for this recipe, I used quail.  

Recipe for Quail Confit as follows:  ( This may be used pheasant, turkey, or duck legs)

Ingredients for Confit:

Whole Quail:  4 TO 5 LBS bone in.

Salt: 2 teaspoons kosher salt per pound.  (Sounds like a lot but it’s not)

Black Pepper: 3 teaspoons of pepper give or take per your liking.

Garlic cloves:  5 to 6 smashed whole garlic cloves.

Herbs:  I use 7 to 8 sprigs of fresh thyme and 2 stems of rosemary.  (You can adjust to your taste)

Duck fat:  Enough to cover the game birds ( 3 jars in my case.  You may use olive oil to top off or to mix in.)

Instructions:

Sprinkle salt, pepper, herbs and garlic over game birds thoroughly.   Place into a zip loc overnight or up to two nights in the fridge.

Confit Cooking Instructions:

Pre heat oven to 200 degrees no more that 225.  

Have duck fat at room temperature 

Add quail and contents from the zip loc to a Dutch oven or similar vessel cover with duck fat and cover.  Place in oven until for tender start checking at one hour.  Once falling off the bone tender pull from the oven.  At this point the confit game may be saved in the duck fat for up to 2 months in the fridge.  

Recipe for beans as follows:

Ingredients for beans:

Beans: 3 pounds of Tarbais beans:  ( I used Navy beans or any white beans although not traditional it still works well.)

Ventreche or Bacon or smoked bacon: 12 ounces

Onion: 2 medium onions cut in half

Carrot: 2 large carrots cut in quarters.

Cloves: 5 whole cloves

Bouquet  garni: Use what you have but can be 4 or so parsley sprigs, 2 celery stalks, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves , and 8 to 10 whole peppercorns.  Use a cheesecloth for removal of this later.

Instructions:


1 .Place beans in a bowl and fill with cool water to cover.  Leave the beans to soak at room temperature overnight, checking the water level every so often as the beans will absorb quite a bit of water.

2. Drain beans then add them to a large pot along with bacon, garlic, carrots, and bouquet garni.  Press clove points into the outside of the onions and add them to the pot as well.  Add enough cool water to cover the mixture by at least 3 inches.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a low simmer , uncovered until the beans are barely tender, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

3.  Drain the bean mixture, reserve beans, carrots and bacon

Recipe for Cassoulet :

Instructions:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Coat a cassoulet clay dish or Dutch oven similar pot (8-9 quarts) with duck fat

3. Stir 1 tablespoon of tomato paste into 3 ½ cups of veal stock.  (Or water and a beef/chicken bouillon cube for substitute.)

4. Brown 1 package of pork sausage of your liking and 1 package of garlic sausage.  You can use what you can find.  Once browned not cooked cut up to your liking.  This will be mixed into the bean dish.

5.  Put half of the bean mixture into the dish. Layer the quail and sausage plus carrots and bacon on top.   Add the remaining beans.  Add the mixture of stock and tomato paste over the dish and a quarter cup of duck fat over the beans.  Bake the beans for 2 ½ hours or until hot.

6.  Increase the oven to 400 degrees and bake cassoulet until a brown crust forms on top .  Make sure to cut the crust and check for liquid.  If liquid is needed add water or stock.  It should have a stew consistency.  You can cut the crust several times to check.  Pull when bubbling hot and nice brown crust has formed.  

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