I am always looking at finding new dishes to serve at the Nafsika Taverna. Often the ideas of new dishes come to me when I find new products in shops and I try to create new ways of cooking them and presenting them to my guests. One ingredient that I use are oyster mushrooms which are a fairly new product. Of course most of my ideas go to the sidelines as my guests find them a bit too adventurous.
During the winter some Greek men go hunting for birds as Corfu is a natural stop over for them when birds fly to the warmer climates of Africa. When I was growing up as a kid, my friends would try to catch them using various means such as traps with strings, slingshots (which we would make ourselves). If we could afford them we would use BB guns since normal guns were forbidden to us. In those days before the world of video games we had to amuse ourselves with far healthier pursuits than today. I’m not advocating hunting as most of the time we did not catch anything or at least I did not, but we all had fun in trying.
I was never a very avid bird hunter as it would mean getting up early and as most people know, I am not an early riser but more of a night-bird. I also had a bad experience when I shot a bird with a BB gun when I was young. I shot a bird with a BB gun and it distressed me so much to see it die that I never shot another bird again… ever! But luckily for me all sorts of game birds are sold in shops and thankfully all of them are farmed raised.
Most people here would cook quail by roasting or by barbecuing them. I barbecued them the first time in a teriyaki marinade but found them slightly tough, although I enjoyed them none the less. Last winter I decided to braise them and as I had loads of oyster mushrooms on hand so I combined the two. The results were more than favorable which made me decide to blog the recipe. Last year I had flavored them with some bacon bits but this time I had none so I left them out. I also decided to kick it up a notch by adding the Cajun spices and the hot pepper but not to make the dish hot.
Braised Quails with Mushrooms
4 quails, cleaned and halved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, plus more if needed
Splash olive oil
1 onion, chopped
10-15 baby (shallots) onions
1 teaspoon green peppercorns
2 red peppers of Florina
2 green peppers
1 spicy hot red pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup white wine
1 cup Chicken stock
1 teaspoon Cajun spices
3/4 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (1/2 button mushrooms, and 1/2 oyster mushroom)
Handful chopped fresh parsley leaves
Season the quails with salt and pepper. In a heavy casserole, add butter with olive oil , and brown the quails on all sides over medium-high heat.
Add the onions, baby onions, garlic and green peppercorns along with the quails and fry until golden. Stir the flour into the onions, and cook 1 minute. De-glaze the pan with the wine, stirring up the good bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Pour the chicken stock and season with the Cajun spices, cover, and simmer until the quails are just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Add water, if needed so it will not burn.
Add red and green peppers plus spicy red pepper. (By adding the spicy red pepper and Cajun spices I want depth to the dish but it should not be a hot dish by any means). Simmer until peppers are soft. When the quails are done, add oyster mushrooms and once they are done, add the button mushrooms along with the parsley leaves. I turn off the heat and let the button mushrooms cook by heat of the pot.
Enjoy it with a glass of Moschofilero wine and some country crusty bread for sopping up the awesome sauce!