DEAR SOS: On the way to Palm Springs we found an exciting Italian restaurant in Riverside called Magnone, which I would have expected to find in Beverly Hills. They served a marvelous quail stuffed with pancetta and accompanied by polenta (cornmeal cakes). I would love to have a recipe for the quail. I hope you can get it, as I think other readers would like to know how to prepare quail in this delicious manner.
DEAR FERN: The chef at Magnone graciously sent the recipe. We were delighted to find that the stuffing also contains wild rice and juniper berries, which you can find in spice sections of most gourmet food stores. The dried berries can be left out of the recipe if they are not available.
MAGNONE'S ROAST QUAIL WITH WILD RICE STUFFING
1 cup uncooked wild rice
4 cups veal stock
1/4 cup pancetta, diced and lightly cooked
1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed
12 small quail
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons diced shallots
4 ounces gin
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Cook rice in 2 cups veal stock with pancetta and juniper berries until tender and liquid is absorbed. Cool rice. Fill quail cavities with 1/4 of rice mixture, reserving remaining 3/4 of rice for plates.
Lightly flour quail and cook in olive oil in oven-proof skillet until browned on all sides. Pour off excess oil and roast stuffed quail at 450 degrees 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
Remove pan from oven and add shallots. Flame with gin. Remove quail to plates and add remaining 2 cups veal stock to skillet. Reduce liquid over medium-high heat.
Add butter, salt and pepper to taste and heat until butter melts and sauce thickens slightly. Pour over quail. Makes 6 servings.
DEAR SOS: I was recently told about an ice cream dessert called Mississippi mud pie, but after searching through all my cookbooks, I have been unable to find such a dessert. Do you have a recipe in your files?
DEAR GINA: We have several such recipes in our files. The Chart House, a steak house chain, was one of the first restaurants in Southern California to serve the pie a decade or so ago. Their recipe is given here. Mud pies make wonderful summer desserts because they are cool and can be prepared well in advance to keep in the freezer until ready to serve.
CHART HOUSE MUD PIE
2/3 (8 1/2-ounce) package dark chocolate wafers
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 gallon coffee ice cream, slightly softened
3/4 cup Chocolate Fudge Sauce
Toasted sliced almonds
Crush wafers and mix with butter. Press into bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie plate. Chill thoroughly or bake at 350 degrees 7 minutes, then chill.
Pack ice cream into chilled crust, shaping into slight mound. Freeze until firm. (Freezing before adding fudge sauce is essential to keep fudge from slipping off.)
Pour Chocolate Fudge Sauce evenly over pie and freeze until ready to serve. Serve with dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with almond slices. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.
Chocolate Fudge Sauce
5 squares unsweetened Swiss chocolate
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 (5.3-ounce) can evaporated milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
Melt chocolate and butter in small saucepan. Remove from heat and mix in milk alternately with powdered sugar. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Cook, stirring, 8 minutes or until thickened and creamy. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Store in refrigerator and use as needed. Makes 3 cups.