Archive for Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Chef draws from heritage for special Passover dish

April 9, 2003

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— This recipe for Passover emerges from a melting-pot context, but goes back to an early Jewish background for its inspiration.

The recipe is for a quail dish, developed by Shahar Dan, who was born and raised in Israel and is now executive chef of Sushisamba-Dromo, a Miami Beach restaurant.

The restaurant offers a creative mix of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian fare. However, Dan has drawn from his Israeli heritage to work out something special to make for Passover.

"I dreamed up this dish because it reminds me very much of something my mother made for Passover when I was growing up in Zfat (Israel)," he explains.

Of course, he says, his use of quail is symbolic, "but they are also beautiful and special to eat -- which make them perfect for a modern Passover celebration."

Pineapple-Glazed Quail Stuffed With Pine Nut and Raisin Risotto

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For the Risotto:
1/2 cup chicken stock
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small Spanish onion, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine, room temperature
2 cups tepid water (more if needed)
3/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup raisins
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Chutney:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup cognac
1 1/2 cups port
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried figs, cut into quarters
1/2 cup dried dates, cut in half with pits removed
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
4 tablespoons honey
Pinch of salt

For the Glaze:
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup honey

For the Quail:
Four quail, a half-pound each
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnish: cooked snow peas, pomegranate seeds

To make the Risotto:

In a sauce pan gently heat chicken stock and keep warm over low heat. In a deep saute pan, saute the diced Spanish onion over low heat with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook until the onion is translucent and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the Arborio rice to the pan and stir, coating the rice in olive oil and being careful not to let the rice burn.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine to the rice, stirring constantly until all the wine has been absorbed by the rice. Then, ladle warmed chicken stock into the pan, letting each ladleful become fully absorbed by the rice before adding another. Never stop stirring. Then, begin to repeat this with the tepid water until rice is cooked.

When finished, remove risotto from the heat and add remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, pine nuts and raisins. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool before stuffing into the quail.

To make the Chutney:

Place olive oil in a pan over low heat and add the diced red onion. Let it cook until translucent, 4 or 5 minutes. Add the cognac and port to the pan, raise heat to medium and bring to a boil. Add the dried cherries, figs, dates, fresh pineapple and pomegranate seeds to the pan, and return to simmering heat. Add ginger, honey and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat slightly and let the mixture reduce over low heat until the mixture is jam-like in consistency, about 45 minutes. Set aside at room temperature.

To make the Glaze:

Combine pineapple juice and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat, and stir until thoroughly combined. Reduce heat and stir occasionally while simmering until the glaze has reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 35 to 40 minutes. Keep warm on very low heat.

To make the Quail:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse each bird, inside and out, with water and pat dry. Spoon risotto into the bird's cavity until full. Repeat for all four birds. Season outside with salt and pepper. Place olive oil in an ovenproof saute pan and warm over medium heat. When warm, place the birds breast-side down in pan and sear for 1 or 2 minutes. Then remove from heat, turn birds over and brush the glaze over each bird. Place pan in oven and roast birds for 4 minutes. Then remove from oven and carefully check for doneness by pulling back the inner thigh. The flesh should be pale pink.

To serve:

Brush the quails with another coat of pineapple glaze. Place on a bed of warm chutney and garnish, if desired, with snow peas and pomegranate seeds.

Makes 4 servings.

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