- 4 semi-boneless quails
- 2 pounds (900 g) fresh salsify roots
- Juice of 1 medium lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Black pepper
- Pinch grated fresh nutmeg
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 Pink Lady apples
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup rose geranium leaves
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- ¼ cup chicken jus or stock
Remove the wings of the quail, leaving the drumsticks attached, then remove the thigh bones. Trim around the base of the legs and pull the bones to “French” the legs. Repeat this process on all 4 quail, then cover with a freezer zip-lock bag and pound the birds flat everywhere. Don’t kill them—they’re already dead—just make them flat so they cook evenly.
Rinse and brush the salsify well (the roots can be very sandy and dirty), then peel them. Rinse them again well under cold running tap water. Make sure that all the sand and dirt are completely washed off. As you peel the salsify, let the peeled roots soak in water with half of the lemon juice until you have completed them all. This keeps them from oxidizing and turning yellow. Cut the peeled salsify into 3-inch-long batons.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan and place over high heat. Add the salsify and season with a little pinch of pepper, salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Sauté the salsify until golden brown, then deglaze with the wine and cook until it evaporates. Add the remaining lemon juice and stir to combine. Remove the salsify from the pan and place on a baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes, until the salsify is soft and golden. Gently stir halfway through the cooking time. Remove the salsify from the oven, and reserve for the finished dish.
In a large sauté pan over high heat, add the butter. Once it melts, add the birds breast side down, letting the butter brown. Cook for 4 minutes, then turn the birds over and continue to cook for another 4 minutes. Add the salsify to the pan with the quail.
While the quail are cooking, julienne the Pink Lady apples and set aside. Remove the quail and salsify from the pan (leaving behind the brown butter) and place on a platter. Top the birds with the julienned apples. In the pan with the brown butter on medium-high heat, add the rose geranium leaves and crisp them, then add the apple cider vinegar and chicken jus or stock. Spoon the mixture over and around the quail. Serve immediately.