Recipes Inspired by the Mothers of Celebrity Chefs and
Grilled Quail on Vidalia Onion & Country
Bacon Spoonbread, Pinot Noir & Sundried Cherry Jus
By Chef Ben Barker (more info)
"My shviger (mother-in-law in Yiddish), Esther Roth,
was quick to accept me into their family, despite all the
baggage I brought with me. I am confident that fixing her
fried chicken and mashed potatoes early on in our relationship
had a lot to do with it. She continues to inspire me with
her technical prowess at consuming the less desirable cuts
of meat or fish; extracting every last morsel of flesh from
the bony parts. In her honor, here is a late spring recipe
for quail, so she can suck the little bones shiny-clean."
- 8 fresh or frozen semi-boneless quail, 4-4 1/2 ounces
(defrost in fridge for 24 hours if using frozen)
- 2 shallots, peeled and sliced thin
- 4 cloves garlic, mashed with flat side of knife
- 2 tablespoons molasses (or you can substitute pomegranate
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoons coarsely ground or cracked black pepper
- Spoonbread (see below)
- Sour Cherry Compote (see below)
Pinot Noir Jus:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Reserved wing tips from quail
- 6 oz. vidalia onions, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons garlic cloves, sliced
- Half cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup fruity Pinot Noir (e.g. California)
- Strained liquid from cherry compote
- 1 qt. Chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- Salt to taste
- 8 thyme sprigs for garnish
1) Make compote. Make spoonbread through step
2) Trim wing tips from the quail; reserve for sauce. Make
an incision in skin at base of the breast bone and tuck legs
through to aid in cooking uniformly. Combine marinade ingredients
and coat quail in mixture. Marinate 4 hours or overnight.
Remove from refrigeration 20-30 minutes before cooking.
3) Make sauce. Heat olive oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Brown quail wing tips over medium heat 8-10 minutes. Add onions
and garlic and cook until softened and lightly caramelized.
Deglaze with vinegar, wine and compote liquid. Bring to a
boil, reduce by 2/3. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil and
simmer to reduce by half, skimming any impurities. Strain
and reduce to 1 1/2 cups. Add black pepper, thyme, and season,
4) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Light grill (or broiler,
if using). Complete spoonbread and bake. When spoonbread is
done, wipe marinade off quail. Grill quail, breast-side down
over medium hot coals for 3-4 minutes, until well-browned.
Turn and finish on back for 2-3 minutes.
5) Spoon approximately 3/4 cup of spoonbread onto individual
warm plates. Place a quail, breast-side up on top of spoonbread.
Spoon 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons of compote over and around. Spoon
sauce over and around and garnish with a thyme sprig.
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups Half & Half
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 8 tablespoons butter (4 ounces), cut into pieces
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 4 oz. apple-smoked bacon, julienned
- 8 oz. Vidalia or other sweet onions, peeled and sliced
1) Cook bacon until crisp, drain on paper towel,
reserve drippings. Cook onions over low heat in reserved drippings
until very soft and lightly caramelized. Puree in food processor,
cool and reserve.
2) Heat milk, Half & Half, salt, and sugar in heavy saucepan
over medium heat. When small bubbles appear around edge, slowly
whisk in cornmeal and flour, stirring constantly. Continue
to stir as mixture cooks and thickens. When smooth and creamy,
remove from heat and stir in butter until completely absorbed.
3) Beat yolks and cream together until lightened in color.
Gradually add to cornmeal mixture. Next, add 3/4 cup of onion
puree, bacon, and thyme. (Can be made ahead to this point.)
Reserve at room temperature.
4) SEASON GENEROUSLY BEFORE FOLDING IN EGG WHITES.
5) Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into cornmeal
mixture. Spread into lightly buttered hotel pan. Bake at 350
degrees until puffy, golden, brown, and just set.
6) Cover with a towel and keep warm while finishing quail.
Sour Cherry Compote:
- 2 cups wild sour cherries, or other tart cherries, pitted
(or 1 1/2 cups dried sour cherries)
- 1/2 cup dried bing cherries
- 1/2 cup ruby port
- 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
- 2 tablespoons grenadine molasses or sorghum molasses
Tied in a cheesecloth sachet:
- 4 star anise
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 12 crushed coriander seeds
- 1 bay leaf
1). Combine port, red wine, molasses, and sachet
2). Bring to a boil, add dried cherries, bring back to a
boil, and remove from heat.
3). Stir in sour cherries, and cool. Refrigerate. Keeps
Ben and Karen Barker opened Magnolia Grill in 1986. The restaurant
is located at Ninth & Knox, Durham, North Carolina, 919-286-3609
and its chefs have been recognized by The James Beard Foundation,
Rising Star Chefs on Public Television, Nation's Restaurant
News' Hall of Fame, Wine Spectator's "Award of Excellence" and
by many other prestigious organizations and publications.
Ben is founding organizer of Share
Our Strength's "Taste of the Nation" event in the Triangle.
In 1994, the Barkers initiated an annual fundraising effort
to start The Magnolia Fund; providing grant assistance, targeted
at promoting collaborative efforts among various Triangle-based
AIDS service agencies. One-hundred percent of proceeds, a
total of over $320,000 in six years, goes directly to grant