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Calvados quail flambé

A fancy flambé of a tiny bird is a perfect way to start a meal—especially when you make a sauce of top-shelf Calvados, rich butter, sweet honey, and ripe grapes!



  • 4 semi-deboned quail, butterflied, backbone and ribs removed from the inside
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Sunflower oil, to sear, plus 2 tablespoons (30 ml) for sauce
  • 2 medium shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Calvados
  • 1 cup (240 ml) chicken stock
  • 2 cups (470 ml) halved red grapes
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) butter, cubed cold
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • Chopped chives, for garnish


  1. Season the butterflied quail all over with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a drizzle of sunflower oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the quails to the pan, skin-side down and sear until a golden-brown crust has formed, three to four minutes. Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to cook the quail in batches so as not to overcrowd.
  3. Flip the quails and cook for three to four more minutes.
  4. Transfer the quails to a plate and allow rest for three to four minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons (30 ml) of sunflower oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and rosemary to the pan and cook for one to two minutes.
  6. Add the honey and cook for one minute. Increase heat to medium-high.
  7. Carefully pour the Calvados into the pan. It will ignite, so be mindful. Once the flames die down, add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce until slightly thickened, three to four minutes.
  8. Add the grapes and bring them to a simmer again—Cook for two to three minutes.
  9. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl the butter in a few cubes to emulsify the sauce. Once all the butter has been incorporated, and the sauce is thick and glossy, add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Reserve and keep warm.
  10. Transfer the cooked quail to serving plates, spoon the sauce onto and around them, garnish with chives and serve immediately. Enjoy! 

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