Quail with Grape Sauce, Turnips, and Radishes
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as an appetizer
8 sprigs sage
8 quail*, bone in, rinsed and patted dry, neck bones and wing tips removed
1 T cracked black pepper
1 bunch red radishes (6 to 8), greens discarded
2 bunches baby turnips with greens (12 to 16): turnips trimmed and peeled, and greens trimmed, stemmed, and reserved. (You can substitute 1⁄2 lb. of spinach for the turnip greens.)
2 T olive oil
6 T butter
2 large shallots, peeled and cut in 1⁄4" slices
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups seedless green grapes: 1 1⁄2 cups halved and 1⁄2 cup sliced
3 T cognac
3 T crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
*Quail can be ordered online from D'Artagnan, dartagnan.com.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Stuff one sprig of sage in each quail, tie the legs together with butcher's twine, and tie the wings together with more twine so they're tight against the body. Season with cracked black pepper and salt. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly shave two radishes and two turnips for garnish. Halve or quarter the remaining radishes and turnips into bite-size pieces and set aside.
Heat the oil and 1 T butter in a heavy, ovenproof 12" sauté pan over moderate heat until foam subsides, then brown the quail on all sides, while basting with liquid from pan, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer the quail to a large plate. Drain all but 2 T fat from the pan, then add the shallots and continue cooking, stirring and scraping up brown bits, for 2 minutes. Return the quail and any juices from the plate to the pan. Place breast-sides up, and roast in oven until just cooked through (cut into an inner thigh; the meat will still be slightly pink), about 10 minutes.
While the quail is roasting, combine 2 T butter, 1⁄2 cup chicken stock, and the chopped turnips in a 12" sauté pan and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the turnips are tender and the liquid is reduced to a glaze (add spoonfuls of water if the liquid reduces before the turnips are cooked), about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, transfer the turnips to a plate, and repeat the process with the chopped radishes, another 2 T butter, and another 1⁄2 cup stock. Transfer radishes to the plate. Add remaining 1 T butter to the pan with the reserved turnip greens, and toss until wilted. Return the turnips and radishes to the pan and toss, adjusting seasoning if needed, and keep warm.
Transfer the quail to a platter, remove twine, and cover loosely with foil. Add the halved grapes and cognac to the quail pan. Place the pan over medium heat and lightly simmer for 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1⁄2 cup chicken stock, and boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the crème fraîche and simmer until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Puree the mix with a hand blender, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a sauceboat.
Place the quail on a bed of the sautéed vegetables and garnish with the shaved radishes, turnips, and sliced grapes. Serve the sauce on the side.