Chocolate lends depth to a classic white-wine pan sauce, the perfect savoury-sweet complement to juicy roasted quail. This decadent dish makes an excellent first course for a celebratory dinner or spring feast. Alternatively, turn the birds into the main event by serving them with steamed artichokes or a fresh-green-and-spring-pea salad.
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4 jumbo quails
3 tbsp cold salted butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme (plus more for garnishing)
1 bay leaf
Pinch red chili flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water
1/3 ounce (10 g) 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp honey
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Butterfly each quail by cutting out each back bone using kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large frying pan set over medium-high heat. Sear each quail until golden (about 3 to 4 minutes). You may need to cook them in batches. Remove seared quails to a roasting pan or baking sheet. Wipe frying pan with paper towel and set aside. Roast quails until cooked through (10 to 12 minutes).
Meanwhile, set unwashed pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp butter, then thyme, bay leaf and chili flakes. When the herbed butter is bubbling, pour in wine and water. Cook, stirring frequently until reduced by half (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Sprinkle in chocolate and stir until smooth. Cut remaining 1 tbsp butter into cubes and stir into the sauce. Stir in honey. Spoon sauce over individual plates or a platter and top with quails. Serve warm.