[Recipe] Make Chef de Cuisine Bradley Herron’s Little Bourbon-Loving Birds at Home

It’s impossible to attend every pre-shift meeting held at MGFD, let alone at our other restaurants, so sometimes there are nights when I hear about verbal specials but don’t see or taste them since the staff has already been there, done that.  One such night was this past Wednesday.  “Wood oven roasted Lake Meadow guinea hen with bourbon brown butter and pomegranate gremolata,” chef de cuisine Bradley Herron rattled off in his usual tear.  What might seem like an unfortunate occurrence is actually an auspicious one.  Bradley was hungry too, so he had no problem plating one up for us to taste with the cooks as soon as the meeting wrapped.  I assumed the perch I like so much at the food bar, and away we went.  The rest is Instagram history, as you can see above.  We recently reciped a take on this dish, using quail and pan-frying the bird instead, for the kind folks at Maker’s Mark.  It’s perfect holiday recipe that they’re sharing as Thanksgiving approaches so that you can go little bird, instead of big bird this season, just like us!  Please find it below, and don’t forget the crusty bread to mop up all that gorgeous pan sauce.

Pan-fried Quail with Maker’s Mark Brown Butter and Pomegranate Gremolata

Serves 4

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and lightly cracked
4 semi-boneless quails
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup shallots, minced
½ cup Makers Mark bourbon
½ cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped
Zest of 2 lemons
1 garlic clove, minced

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, mustard powder, chili flakes, and fennel seeds.

Wash the quails and pat dry with a paper towel. Dredge each bird in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove excess and placing on a platter until ready to fry.

Add grape seed oil to a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Once the pan is smoking hot, fry the quails, browning them on one side for 2 minutes, then flipping to brown the other side for another two minutes. Remove the birds from the pan to rest on another plate while emptying the grease from the skillet. Lower the heat to medium high, and add the quails back to the pan with the butter. Let them brown in the pan for about two minutes more. Remove quail to the plate to rest, leaving butter and juices in the skillet. Reduce heat to low. Stir shallots into the browned butter and then add the Makers Mark, using a wood spoon to deglaze the pan sauce over low heat, about 3 more minutes or until the shallots are translucent. Spoon the sauce over quail to finish.

In a medium bowl, a combine the pomegranate seeds with the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest for the gremolata. Add salt and pepper to taste, top the quail, and serve family-style.