Barnsley Resort’s executive chef, Nicolas Lebas, started toying with quail in the kitchen when guests at the Adairsville, Georgia, property began bringing it in fresh from the hunt. “I wanted to do something surprising for them,” Lebas says, and he succeeded: His quail gets coated in cornflakes and fried, stuffed with apple slaw, drizzled with a red bell pepper glaze, and brightened with a fennel frond salad.
The dish relies on local ingredients, including sorghum syrup, apples, and fennel frond. “I always study the region and ingredients where I work, then use French techniques and plating to execute my dishes,” says Lebas, who was born in Marseilles, France. “I’m always thinking about visuals, and texture, too, and with this you have a colorful plate with sweetness, a little heat, and crunch.”
Lebas uses a sous vide while at Barnsley, but to make the quail at home without one, he recommends boiling water, double wrapping the bird to make sure the filling doesn’t come out, and immersing it for about fifteen minutes, before cooling in ice water. You can swap out the fennel frond for another lettuce, like frisée, and adjust the cayenne and black pepper levels according to taste. The slaw is a key element, Lebas says—it ensures the bird stays extra moist.
Those at Barnsley Resort who bring Lebas their quail don’t regret it: “When I cook this for people, the plate comes back empty, so I think that’s a good sign.”