Game on!: Pan-seared Quail with Herbed Polenta

Game on!:  Pan-seared Quail with Herbed Polenta

While I recognize that this dish doesn’t seem very African, and the flavors probably aren’t at all but for the colonization of Guinea by Portugal, I’m going to take it, though the plantains add some authenticity.  Not that I haven’t been loving what I’ve made so far, I very much have, but I’ve also been hankering for a roast flavor of some type. Since it’s usually a party of one at my house, there aren’t enough meals in the week to make what I want to make for the this and a little something extra, I have to fit what I want to eat within the confines of the project.  So I cheat a little. A LITTLE!


Anyway, this meal was supposed to be guinea fowl.  I was intrigued at the idea of eating the guinea fowl.  When I hear it, the movie Notting Hill comes to mind, and Hugh Grant’s skeptical look as he asks his host, “He’s making guinea fowl?” I know from my short stint abroad that game meats are a lot more commonplace than they are in the U.S., and therefore easier to find and cheaper to procure.  Guinea fowl is native to Africa, most likely Guinea in the west, where they are well-acclimatized to hot weather.  When searching for the elusive poultry, I was shocked to find it costing a lot more than I wanted to spend. That, and I didn’t’ need a whole guinea fowl, but merely parts. Anyway, in staying true to the game-meat idea behind this, I went with frozen whole quails, which just happened to be on sale at the store, and my pocketbook was happy for the concession.


This recipe shows the strong European influence on the region, butter and all. It was delicious and a nice treat.  And for me tonight, Europe in Africa counts as Africa.



For the quail:

2 whole quails, fresh or frozen

1- ½  cups pearl onions

½ plantain, diced

2 ½ cups chanterelle mushrooms, sliced

1 cup dry white wine

1 TB brown sugar

¼- ½ cup chicken stock

1 TB butter

½ TB dried tarragon

Olive oil, for the pan



1.  In a large sauté pan with somewhat deep sides, heat the oil and add the onions. Cook for three minutes.  Continue frying until the onions are relatively soft.  Push to the side of the pan.

2.  After seasoning the quail with salt and pepper, sear about 5 minutes per side until mostly done.  Transfer to a plate and set aside for now, placing foil over the birds to keep them warm.

3.  To the pan, adding more oil if necessary, add the plantain and fry until browned all over.  Add the mushrooms.  Cook for about 4 minutes.

4.  Add the wine and sugar. Deglaze the pan for about 1 minute and add the stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the quail back to the pan.

5.  Cover and cook until stock volume has reduced and the quail is cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Add the butter and tarragon. Serve on polenta (see below).



For the herbed polenta

1 cup polenta

4 cups water or stock

1 red bell peppers, diced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Handful parsley, chopped

½ -1 cup grated Parmesan cheese



1.  Add a bit of olive oil to the bottom of a large saucepan.  Add the pepper and sauté until soft.  Add the polenta, oregano, salt, pepper and broth.  Whisk constantly to avoid lumps.

2.  Bring the polenta to a boil and then simmer and continue cooking, stirring frequently until liquid is absorbed and it’s nice and thick.

3.  Once it’s done, add the parsley and stir in the cheese.  Serve with the quail.



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