An amalgamation from some of my favourite sources, this recipe is effectively Paul Bocuse (for the bird, boned, stuffed under its skin, and roast) meets Bruno Loubet (for the sauce using quail stock, mixed with soy and verjus) meets Paula Wolfert (for the juniper berries, coriander seed, and sage as flavour elements in the stuffing, and the idea of green grapes, which I've translated into verjus instead, and used in the sauce).
The only tricky bit is boning the quail. The process is exactly the same as for boning chicken, but made slightly more complicated because of the size of the birds; make sure you have a very sharp, small knife, and don't become impatient along the way and start to snap the bones rather than working round them with the point of the knife. Once you've completed the first one, it goes quite quickly.
Excellent for a dinner party, as the entire dish can be done in advance, and the birds are then roast at the last minute and kept warm as you deal with the first course. This dish presents well, with a complete bird per serving, on top - for example - of a crisp and delicious potato galette.
Ingredients: 2 Quail; 1 large Shallot, finely chopped; 4 Sage leaves, finely chopped; 5 Juniper berries and 6 Coriander seeds, either crushed together with pestle & mortar, or else ground in an electric grinder; 1 oz Butter; Salt & Pepper; 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce; 20 green, seedless Grapes, whizzed in the processor, and then sieved, to give 4 or 5 tablespoons of Verjus.
1. Following the procedure for boning a chicken, remove the rib cages from the Quail (don't bother about the wing and leg bones - life's too short!). Put the rib cages in a small saucepan, cover with water and simmer for half an hour or so to make some stock.
2. Combine the Butter, crushed spices, chopped Shallot and Sage, and seasoning. Divide this mixture in two, and use it to stuff the Quail under their skins. Leave a little of the mixture to press as a poultice on top of each bird, as this will effectively baste the Quail as it roasts, and should produce a nice crisp skin. Put the birds aside until it's time to roast them.
3. Carry on gently reducing the stock until you have about half a cup of liquid. Set this aside until you're ready to roast the birds.
4. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C, then - about ten minutes before you're ready to sit - put the prepared Quail in the oven. Bring the reserved stock to a simmer, then add to it the Soy Sauce and Verjus; continue to simmer this mixture until it is starting to thicken (if it goes too far, just add a slug of white wine and keep on going). After ten minutes, the Quail should be done. Either serve it immediately, or else leave it to rest for up to twenty minutes in a warm oven.
Serve: one bird per person, with a spoonful of sauce over the top.