Quail Cordon Bleu
4 semi-boneless quail
4 very thin slices of Serrano ham (less than 1 oz. total weight)
2 poblano chilies roasted, peeled, seeded and cut in half
4 oz. Emmenthaler cheese, shredded (or other Swiss-style cheese)
salt and pepper
½ c. all-purpose flour
2 large eggs beaten with ¼ c. milk
2 c. blue corn meal
6 c. rice bran oil (or other frying oil) for frying
For Guajillo Jus:
½ c. diced red onion
5 garlic cloves, whole
5 guajillo chilies (stem removed)
1 c. chicken stock or broth
2 c. water
salt for seasoning
1 tbsp. bacon grease
1 tbsp. shallot, thinly sliced
1 bundle rainbow chard, washed, stemmed and roughly torn
juice of 1 lime
salt for seasoning
For Hominy Purée:
1 c. dry hominy, soaked overnight
1 qt. chicken stock or broth
1 gal. water
reserved quail wings
8 garlic cloves, whole
1 c. heavy cream
2 c. cooking liquid
½ tbsp. cumin
½ tbsp. salt
Remove the last two wing joints from the quail and reserve for use in the hominy puree. Lay out the four slices of Serrano ham, top each with half a poblano and 1 oz. of the shredded Emmenthaler. Roll the cheese up inside the chili and ham. Carefully fill the cavity of each quail with the rolled-up cheese, chili and ham. Salt and pepper the exterior of one quail and roll through the flour, then the egg, and then the blue corn meal. Repeat with remaining three quail. In a large, deep pot, bring the frying oil to 350 degrees. Very carefully place two of the quail into the hot oil. Fry for about 12 minutes. Remove from the oil and place on a paper-towel-lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and place in a 200-degree oven. Repeat the process with the remaining two quail.
For Hominy Purée:
In a large pot, bring the hominy, stock, water, quail wings and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the hominy is soft throughout and has "exploded" from its skin. This will take several hours. Add more water if necessary to keep the pot from going dry. Drain the hominy, reserving the cooking liquid, and remove the quail wings. Place the cooked hominy, cream, 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, cumin and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process on high speed for about 5 minutes until the purée is smooth. Run the purée through a fine-meshed sieve, tamis or chinois, pressing with a spatula as you go. Place the strained purée into a small pot and reserve until you are ready to serve.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, toast the red onion, garlic and chilies over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, until the onion and garlic have browned slightly. Add the stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the chilies have completely softened. Remove from the stove and allow to sit, covered, for about 20 more minutes. Pour the mixture into a blender and purée on high speed for about 2 minutes. Run the purée through a fine-meshed sieve, tamis or chinois to remove the solids. Place the remaining jus in a sauce pot over low heat and allow to simmer until it just starts to thicken, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and reserve until ready for plating.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the bacon grease until it just starts to smoke. Add the shallots and toss quickly through the fat for about 30 seconds. Add the torn chard and toss to coat with the bacon fat. Cook for about 2 minutes, tossing often to avoid charring the shallots and chard. Pour the lime juice over to complete the wilting and stir through the greens. Season with salt and serve immediately.
Quickly reheat the hominy and guajillo jus as you wilt the chard. Spoon the hominy in 4 equal portions into the bottom of four warmed pasta bowls. Place an equal amount of greens atop each portion of hominy. Pour the jus around the hominy into the bottom of the bowls and place a quail atop the greens.
Chicken Cordon Bleu is a classic dish, but we've added a modern Southwestern twist to liven it up. Having spent the last nine years cooking in New Mexico, my "ode to New Mexico" includes some of the famed ingredients of the state: blue corn, hominy (or posole as it is called there), and both red and green chilies. This is first and foremost why I chose this recipe. Secondly, the quail dish was highly touted in the Independent's recent review of The Warehouse and is a top seller at the restaurant, so I wanted to share the recipe with readers. Lastly, while including two chilies, this preparation is what we call "white people spicy." The sauce is sweet and flavorful and you get just a hint of fire from the poblano inside the quail. So overall, the dish offers a great balance of sweet, savory, tart and spicy.
— Submitted by chef/owner James Africano