“Stew” is a relative term. In this case, it refers back to the Southern Coastal Oyster stew. In fact, if you substitute oysters for the quail, you pretty much have the same dish. This is not a thick stew, it is a light, rich soup with minimal ingredients.
I got this recipe two weeks ago when we went quail hunting at Pine Lake Plantation in Carthage, NC. The hunt was a present from my father, and we had a great time in addition to getting a lot of quail. In fact, we’re going again soon. The Myricks are great folks, and Mrs. Ruby Myrick graciously told me her recipe:
1 quart water, plus
salt & pepper
3 tbls butter
2 cups half and half, or cream
2 tablespoons manzanilla sherry (optional)
1 small to medium potato, in 1/4 in. chunks (I added this)
Add the four quail to a large non-reactive pot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sear. Remove the quail, and add 1 quart of water. Scrape the fond off the bottom into the water. Put the quail back in, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, just until the quail are cooked. Remove the quail from the liquid and set aside.
To the pot of liquid, add 1/4 cup of fresh celery, or celery leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried celery or celery seed. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add up to 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley. Chop a small potato into 1/4″ cubes, and add to the liquid (optional).
Simmer for 45 minutes. In the meantime, remove the quail meat from the bones and chop it into even pieces.
30 minutes before you want to serve dinner, add the quail meat and the half & half. Bring the heat up, but Do Not boil the broth & milk mixture. You want it steaming, but not boiling, and you may have to nurse it, stirring constantly but gently. With 10 minutes left, add the sherry, stirring gently.
Put 1/2 tablespoon of butter into the bottom of each serving bowl, and serve the quail stew over it. I recommend crackers, croutons, or garlic bread.
It was delicious.