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This is a recipe that first appeared in the recipe book of “La Nicolasa” in the 1920s. La Nicolasa was a cheff who had a restaurant in San Sebastian named after her. At home this book edited in the 1920’s is like a bible. It is a bit broken and out of its time but the content is very valuable. We can think of it as one of the pillars of Basque haute cuisine as some of the recipes are still valid today. Above all you can find recipes for traditional fish such as cod, sea bass, seafood and game meats such as quail, partridge, pheasant and deer. It is a very illustrative book about the origins of Basque cuisine.

Quails in Spanish sauce

The Spanish sauce is an onion-based sauce so we will need 1 onion for every 2 quails. 2 tablespoons of olive oil for each quail. 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar for each quail. 1 glass of white and red wine (50/50) per each quail. We will also add spices such as a sprig of thyme, a sprig of rosemary, black pepper, a sprig of parsley, a bay leaf (it is important to remove the bay leaf before crushing the sauce) and 1 clove per quail.

Cut the onion into more or less thick rings and place in a deep pot with the rest of the ingredients.

Season the outside and inside of the quails with salt and pepper and place on top of the casserole dish. Then cover the top of the casserole. Start to cook over low heat and the quails will cook with the aromatic vapors of the sauce. Let it cook over low heat. Always in the upper part of the casserole without submerging or mixing with the onions. After 1 hour they are usually ready to be removed to a plate. You can check by pulling one of the thighs. If it is tender and can be released, they are ready.

When we remove the quails to a plate we continue cooking the sauce over low heat. It can be another 3 hours until the sauce is reduced and takes a brown tone.

When the sauce is ready we remove the bay leaf and grind it. After passing the sauce we add the quails and let them rest in the sauce. It is best to leave them like this all night to eat them the next day.

 

Mushrooms time

Autumn in the Basque Country is a time of many colors and flavors. It is the time to pick grapes in the vineyards, it is the time for hunting migratory birds such as pigeons and it is also the time to pick up mushrooms in the woods. A gastronomic combination that cannot be resisted.

The oaks, beech and pines forest have spectacular colors at this time of the year. Red, yellow, green and brown drawing a typical autumn landscape over the mountains. This is the moment when the mushrooms emerge from the forest bed. The queen of all mushrooms is the “Boletus Edulis”. It is a very appreciated mushroom in the Basque gastronomy for its rich aroma and for its very compact meat. The most recommendable thing is to gather it in its initial phase, this is the optimal moment to harvest this mushroom.

Boletus Edulis

The Boletus Edulis like other mushrooms needs a temperature between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius and a lot of humidity. That is why the end of summer and the beginning of autumn is the time of greatest abundance of this species. In the Basque Country, going in search of these mushrooms is like a tradition and many people go into the woods to look for them.

If you are lucky enough to find them, the next step is to take them into the kitchen to eat with family and friends.

Cooking mushrooms

Personally, my favorite way to cook is to grill them with a little bit of oil and salt. Especially when they are in that initial phase and the meat is very compact. They are cut in more or less thick slices. They should brown on both sides over medium heat and they are ready to eat. Then you can add the yolk of an egg and some parsley. You now have a top-quality dish from the best restaurants in San Sebastian.

When the state of the “Boletus Edulis” mushroom is not the best. We can say that it is in a second phase the meat is no longer so compact, the best thing to do is to make an omelette. The ingredients are onion, garlic and mushrooms. They are cooked slowly, once they have lost most of the water, the eggs are added. The egg is left to curdle and is removed to a plate. As always you can add a little bit of parsley.

If you want to enjoy mushrooms in the Basque Country now is the time. And if you want to collect the best ones you will have to come to the forest with us. I’ll be waiting for you in San Sebastian!