If I had to choose a recipe that would represent my stay in France it would definitively be the quail Pithiviers recipe.
Pithiviers means around French pie most often made out of two puff pastry discs. The main ingredient of this pie is certainly meat – it’s a meat pie after all. But what makes it stand out from all the other pies besides the fact that it tastes really good, is its decoration.
It was named after the French town of the same name Pithiviers.
Quail Pithiviers recipe
For the recipe I will share with you, I didn’t make or buy the puff pastry – I just used normal dough that I kneaded myself. You will need flour, yolk, water, butter and salt for the dough.
Put 100 gr of water into the pot, add butter and salt and heat it up until boiling. Then add flour mixed with yolk and the additional 15 ml of water. Knead the mixture well and leave in the fridge to cool down while you prepare the rest.
The preparation of meat and bone gravy
Let me tell you right from the start that we made the pie from quail meat which can be bought absolutely everywhere in France. In every single supermarket there is.
As a substitute for quail meat, you can use duck’s meat to make an extravagant dish for special occasions or simply chicken for an everyday meal.
So, whenever I say “quail”, you can put your own choice of meat 🙂
How to make quail and bone gravy?
If you bought an entire quail with bones, then you must debone it. You only need the breasts to be in one piece while the rest you can leave with bones. I would only advise you to cut the meat a little bit on each side and break the bones with the meat chopper (this doesn’t apply to the breast part of meat that you need in one piece).
The making of gravy
Gravy is made from all the bones and what’s left of meat (the breasts are left aside).
Put the butter into the pot. Once it melts, throw in all the bones and meat (don’t let small bones worry you, put them in as well) and leave it on the medium temperature to braise. DO NOT STIR – this is very important. The meat must be well done…that’s about 10 minutes without touching it.
Then, once meat and bones are well-baked on one side, we can turn them over to bake on the other one as well. That means another 10 minutes at least, and you be the judge if you need more than time than that.
Once baked on both sides, take the meat out of the pot, and in the same pot add onion, garlic and dried juniper berries. Avoid constant stirring, the point is to bake the vegetables as well, and that will happen only if we don’t stir too often.
Once the vegetables are well-done, deglaze them with red wine. When deglazing, the rule is to use the wine of the same quality as the one you would drink for lunch. Leave it to simmer until the wine evaporates.
Put the bones and the meat back into the pot you left aside and pour the water over so that they sink in. Cook for 30 minutes, strain, add juniper and reduce on medium temperature (by reducing the liquid gravy you get a gelatinous mass). The process of reduction can last depending on how much water you poured over the meat and bones.
Use gravy for
You can use this gravy as a pie topping. You can dilute it a bit (when prepared like this, it is very strong and salty) with water or cooking cream and then use it as topping.
In any case, French chefs say that this sauce is worth gold. You can leave it in the fridge for something else, too.
Preparation of the layers with mushrooms and a carrot
Chop the mushrooms into tiny bits and the carrot into smaller cubes (brunoise). The onion as well. Stew on butter until all the water is reduced. The onion, mushrooms and carrot mixture must be dry.
The layer preparation with kale
Clean kale leaves and blanch in boiling water.
Stretching the dough
To make the pie the same shape as in the photo, we need the mold in three dimensions and a plate with deep bottom (see the photo below).
The mould on the dough (see the picture) is for the bottom of the pie. So, first we cut the bottom for the pie and leave it aside to wait for its turn.
The mould that’s in the plate (see the picture above) is to shape the pie.
Put the rest of the dough (we cut the bottom and left it aside) in the small mould and slowly and gently with fingers coat the mould and the plate at the same time (like in the picture).
Filling in the dough
Then we start to layer the meat and vegetables to get the traditional quail Pithiviers recipe:
- Layer of kale
- A layer of mushrooms and onion together with a carrot
- Meat and bone marrow (mark the direction in which you put the meat by making a small cut on the dough so that you when cut it in half it looks just like in the main picture)
- Then we repeat the first three steps…finish with kale and
Close everything with the bottom we made in the beginning with the larger mould.
All you need is mould 🙂
After this, we put the baking sheet and baking tray and turn the pie so that the bottom is on the bottom 🙂
Press hard the edges so that the pie doesn’t separate while baking.
It looks like this
Use the third mould (the middle one) for this look:
Next is decorating how you like it, but we did it like this:
The end result is this:
Then we make a chimney so that the moisture can come out during baking
And decorate the chimney with additional dough
Coat with egg so that the pie is shiny and crispy. Put in the oven at 180°C for 25 minutes.
Of course, this kind of vegetables and meat is just one idea on how to put together this nutritious meat pie. It’s up to you to be creative and define your traditional pie.
I am sure you will enjoy every bite. It’s not by chance that this is a traditional French dish prepared again and again.
All the photos depicting steps in the pie preparation are mine, but the chef was the one making it.
The final photo of baked Pithiviers is mine and I made it according to this instruction.