Quail flambé

Quail flambé

Caille flambée

Luke Nguyen's France
Alan Benson

My cousin Laurent and I hosted a dinner at his place for my very big French–Vietnamese family. There were more than 40 of us, and one of our favourite dishes of the night was this quail recipe: marinated, pan-fried then flambéed with Cognac. Now be sure to stand back when you add the Cognac, or you may lose your eyebrows!


Quantity Ingredient
6 quail, ask your butcher to remove the ribcages and reserve the bones
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
60ml fish sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 red asian shallot, chopped
85g sultanas
1 teaspoon tamarind pulp
1 bouquet garni, made by tying together 2 thyme sprigs and 2 bay leaves
500ml white wine
125ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
125ml cognac
8 grapes, peeled
crusty baguettes, to serve


  1. Place all the quail in a large mixing bowl. Combine the oyster sauce and 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce, drizzle over the quail, then gently toss to coat them in the marinade. Cover and set aside at room temperature to marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and cook the reserved quail bones for 2 minutes. Stir in the carrot, shallot, sultanas, tamarind, bouquet garni, wine and stock. Bring to the boil, skimming the surface to remove impurities. Season with the remaining fish sauce and the sugar.
  3. Strain the mixture, discarding the solids, then return the liquid to the pan. Cook over medium–high heat until the sauce has reduced by two-thirds. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the quail, in batches, and cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until browned.
  5. The next step will ignite some flames, so watch your hair!
  6. Carefully pour the Cognac into the frying pan. Once the flames die down, add the grapes and reduced wine sauce and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  7. Transfer the quail to a serving platter and drizzle with the sauce. Serve with crusty baguettes.
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