Our knowledge of flavor is the sum of all things we have ever tasted. A recipe is not a free standing list of ingredients and instructions; it’s the result of experience, memories, and desire.
You are never, ever alone in the kitchen.
There is always a noisy crowd of tastes clamoring for attention, like a Greek chorus in the background. Last night they were chanting, “You love chili peppers. Jeff loves chili peppers. Spice tonight.”
On the other side of the kitchen is experience and memory. LIke salt and pepper, they work in tandem: always there, always needed. I thought of how well chili peppers play with sweet, like two friends running down the street, sometimes one leads, sometimes the other.
And finally, there is the great goddess Serendipity, and she controls the random fact that you have a lot of ripe peaches on hand, and some quail, and both need to be eaten.
I have another kitchen god, a benevolent, but demanding, randy little fellow who keeps an eye on me. I don’t know his name, he’s sly that way, but watches over all the comings and goings, and smiles the most when the kitchen is humming with noise and people.
So, you see? You’re never alone in the kitchen. Which is my long winded way of explaining how we ate Roasted Quail with Spiced Peaches, and Chili Crusted Potatoes for dinner.
I heeded the chili siren song, and paid homage to Serendipity, so all was delicious in our house last night.
Roasted Quail & Spiced Peaches
4 quail, cleaned, washed and ready
1 t of “Ras el Hanout” *see note
1/2 t of powdered chili
2 gorgeous, full, ripe, juicy peaches, cut into slices.
1 drizzle of olive oil
1-2 dried chili peppers (optional)
1 knob of butter
1 glug of whiskey.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C
Lay the sliced peaches on the bottom of a small roasting pan. They should cover the bottom of the pan.
Combine the Ras el Hanout spice mix, chili powder, and salt and rub the quail on all sides.
Place the quail on top of the peaches.
Roast until the quail are done, brown and crispy on the outside and the juices run clear when you tip the bird over. Approx 30-40 minutes.
Remove the birds from the roasting pan and keep warm.
Place the roasting pan, with the peaches on the stove and reduce the liquid. If the peaches start to fall apart, remove them from the sauce.
Taste the liquid, if you like more heat, add 1-2 crushed, dried, whole chili peppers.
Reduce the cooking liquid until you have only 2-3 tablespoons of liquid. Add a short glug of whisky, cook for 1 more minute, then swirl in the knob of butter.
Arrange the quail on top of the roasted peaches and serve with sauce on the side.
*Ras el Hanout, or Rasel Hannout is a North African blend of ground spices. Spice shops make their own variation and the one that I use has: ground anise, fennel, allspice, cardamon, clove, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger & nutmeg. It’s the kitchen sink of aromatic spices and is widely considered to be an aphrodisiac. Use generously.
2-3 medium potatoes, cut into thick wedges
1/2 t chili powdered
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t salt
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
Wash the potatoes, cut into wedges and par boil in salted water for 3-5 minutes.
Add the sliced garlic to the boiling potato water right about a minute after the potatoes have come to a boil.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and mound the spices on the paper.
Place the drained potatoes and garlic slices on the mound, and using the paper, roll the spuds around until they are coated with the chili/salt mixture. Spread the potatoes out in a single layer, drizzle with a teeny tiny amount of olive oil and roast until crispy. This will take about 30 minutes, or about as long as the quail takes to roast.
Serve with a smile and remember to thank the God, Goddess and Chorus for keeping you company.