Roast Quail with Pumpkinseed Sauce

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This dish is inspired by the books of Diana Kennedy, as well as by her wonderful cooking. Her mole verde de pepita appears in The Cuisines of Mexico. This pumpkinseed sauce does not sound like much, but the flavors from the seeds are deep, complex, and very intriguing. Yet they do not overpower the delicate flavors of the quail.

Ingredients

  • 8 small quail
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup unsalted green pumpkinseeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 medium tomatillos, husks removed, pureed
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper puree
  • ¼ pound butter
  • 16 sprigs cilantro

Method

Rub the quail all over with a mixture of the thyme and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let marinate for 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Put the pumpkinseeds in a sauté pan and toast over medium heat, tossing them constantly, for 3 minutes. Do not let them burn. Set them aside on a plate to cool.

Put the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the garlic, and onion in a pan. Cover and sweat over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatillos and ½ cup of the stock. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Puree the pumpkinseeds with the remaining stock in a food processor or blender. Add the pumpkinseed puree to the onion mixture and cook over very low heat for 2 minutes, stirring all the time. Do not let boil.

Hold while you cook the quail.

Rub the thyme off the quail, season them, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and keep warm.

Heat the bell pepper puree in a saucepan and whisk in ¼ cup of the butter. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Heat the pumpkinseed sauce very carefully, whisk in the remaining butter. Season and spoon the sauce equally on warm plates. Put 2 quail on each plate and drizzle with the bell pepper sauce. Garnish with the cilantro.

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