In Italy no food is really off limits. Especially if it comes with two legs and wings. Quails are no exception.
Got Quails? Make Lasagna. Homemade dough with Blueberries? …yummm!
My mom used to make a tangy quail crostini, but I never got around to get the recipe. Now, I will just remember the flavors without pushing my luck too much. In this case, my sensory memory will need to suffice. What I have done, instead, is to create a girly-girl Lasagna!!
A feminine, delicate, almost fruity lasagna, with warm spices such as cardamom and a kiss of pink color. A rich, creamy, cheesy sauce to top it all off, and to garnish: crispy Pancetta and a pop of sweetness with the dry figs.
Oh boy, I’m getting hungry just talking about it!
So, dear friends, if you too find yourself in a mood for Quail meat, this is your recipe.
Oh, yes, you are welcome!
SPICED AND FRUITY QUAIL LASAGNA serves 4
Time: 6 Including the pasta making and baking of the dish.
6 Quails, cleaned. (legs included)
1 medium carrot, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced
8 dry figs, chopped
1 lg shallot
1/2 C white wine
a pinch of salt
pepper to taste
1 T cardamom, ground
1/4 t all spice
About 2 cups of vegetable broth
1 Tbs Flour
2 cloves of garlic
3 C whole milk
40 gr of flour
40 gr of butter
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
1 C grated Asiago cheese
4 oz Pancetta, diced and pan fried to a crisp.
200 gr Flour
100 gr Semolina flour
1/4 C blueberry juice (cook the berries and strain them)
50 ml white wine
LET’S DO IT!
First tackle the pasta. Place the flours on a wooden surface and make a well in the center.
Place the blueberry juice and the wine, start incorporating and kneading the dough.
Note: (if you want to use dry blueberries it’s ok!! just pulverize them in the vitamix)
You will have to use your elbow grease for about 20 minutes. Add more flour if needed.
The dough will be smooth, will smell like pasta dough and will be somewhat elastic.
Let it rest under a glass bowl while you prepare the rest. You will see some condensation on the glass wall. It’s YOU! The friction and the body heat. Amazing, isn’t it???
For the Quail RAGU:
Mix the cardamon, 1 Tbs of flour, all spice, salt and pepper. Now “massage” the quail meat with the mix, making sure you cover it all.
Heat 4 or 5 Tbs of olive oil and the garlic, until fragrant. I used a large saucepan. Add the minced shallot. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add carrot and celery and cook some more until they are soft.
Add the quails and brown on all sides. Deglaze with the wine. Drink some, too. 🙂 Once the wine is evaporated, add the broth and keep cooking over low/medium heat. Taste for salt and balance the flavors. If it needs an acid, add lemon juice. Not too much, though.
Eventually the broth will be evaporated and the quail meat will be so tender to fall off the bones. You will need to de-bone the meat for the lasagna.
Once de-boned, place the meat back into the pan and shred it with your hands.
I cooked the sauce for about 1 hour.
Now, back to pasta making !!
Cut a piece of the dough and roll it on your pasta machine. Start with the widest setting (1) and slowly work your way up to a 5 or 6. Use flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Pasta sheets don’t have to be neither perfect nor pretty. You will cook them again. Now cut them into squares and let it air dry for a little while. I know…mines are purrty …
Prepare the Mornay sauce:
Melt the butter with the flour and the spices. Cook on very low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir, stir, stir! After the flour starts to produce a “foam” like, add the warm milk and incorporate. Cook down the milk for another 10 minutes on low, so that the watery part will evaporate. Add the cheese and stir until totally melted. Also, the sauce will become thicker. Cook on low heat for another 10 minutes. Set aside.
ASSEMBLE THE LASAGNA:
Submerge the sheets of pasta in very hot water. Remember: the pasta doesn’t need to cook, needs just to reconstitute. Will cook later in the oven.
Spread some ragu’ and a lil’ Bechamel on the bottom of your pan (I use whatever pan I have, but a lasagna dish would be great 🙂 ). Top the ragu’ with a layer of pasta sheets. Spread some more Quail Ragu’ (about 1/4 of the total) top with some chopped figs. REPEAT until both pasta and ragu’ are gone.
Top with Bechamel and sprinkle some cheese (Parmigiano cheese ONLY) if you wish. Also dab with some pieces of butter….for good measure.
Bake about 30 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown, the edges start to crisp up and it looks just perfect.
While the Lasagna cooks, place the diced pancetta in a non-stick pan and start cooking over low/medium heat. It just needs to get crunchy.
Once cooked, let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it. It won’t do anything for the flavor, but it will benefit its good looks.
Serve each portion of lasagna with a spoonful of crispy pancetta, a swirl of balsamic reduction and a smile.
Alternatively, you can just make Pappardelle or any other kinds of pasta shapes, and dress it with my amazing avocado pesto, which recipe you can find here: