In Praise of Swiss Chard, and a Quail Recipe

Swiss Chard fills our winter garden, making me look like a green thumb, even though I’m not. Shiny emerald green leaves with brilliant yellow and red stems grow abundantly. When there’s nothing green left in our fridge, I cut some leaves off to add a quick green to a bowl of black beans or a frittata.

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You don’t have to rip the stem out, as with kale or spinach, because it’s crunchy and delicious; you can just chop it up along with the leaf. Swiss Chard contains vitamins A and C. The flavor of this leafy green is mild and salty and tastes great with caramelized onions. That’s my favorite way to cook it, but here’s a link to more ideas.

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This recipe tastes like the best comfort food without the guilt. It’s inspired by a recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions and Baby Swiss. That recipe has totally other ingredients, but it’s a good base to use because you can substitute it with things you have–switch out the greens and grains, and/or add a protein.

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This cookbook also has a recipe for lemon bars that calls for the entire lemon! It has so many yummy meals in it.

I had 11 quail that Billy brought home from a hunt on Wednesday and thought they’d be good in this recipe. My grandmother had a recipe for dove pie that I still use, and it has a great way to cook wild game bird meat. You rinse the birds, put them in a casserole dish, and season them. Quail meat gets dry, so add a little water to the bottom of the dish and cover it tightly with foil.  Then cook the quail at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Afterwards, debone the meat and you can use it for lots of things, like empanadas, salads or this recipe. Make sure to save the broth from the cooked quail to add to the gratin.

I used the seasoning below on the quail. I discovered it at Central Market one day when they were doing cooking demos and it is delicious on steak, venison, and roasted veggies.

 

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Gratin of Quinoa, Quail, Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onions

1 cup quinoa cooked as instructed on package (this usually yields 2 cups cooked and only takes 15 minutes; you can toast it in a skillet ahead of time to add flavor)

1 onion, halved and cut into thin slices

8 leaves of swiss chard, cut into ribbons

Shredded cooked quail meat (see above)

2 cups grated swiss cheese

1/4 – 1/2 c. chicken broth as needed

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a skillet and add onions. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook on low heat for 30 minutes until they are golden.  Add the swiss chard and cook until wilted. In a large bowl, mix the onion and chard together with the quinoa and cooked quail and put in the casserole dish with the reserved quail broth. Add a bit more to keep the mixture from being too dry. Top with swiss cheese and heat in 300 degree oven until melted.

And this is my favorite chicken broth, it has the best flavor and makes everything you put it in taste delicious.

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