Today I spent time in the kitchen brining lamb belly and working on a new quail dish. My quiet time in the kitchen lets me think through ideas and contemplate life. Our kitchen staff is small, Aki and myself. The good thing about small is that both of us have our hands, palates and minds involved in everything in the kitchen and linked to the dining room. We create dishes based on concepts and designed around execution. By this I mean the prep work which goes into the creation of the dish as well as the final plating of the dish which may be be intricate but must also be accurately and rapidly assembled.
Our resources are limited only by our creativity. For example, we may serve marinated and grilled semi-boneless quail as a component of a salad for lunch. The quail is full flavored, charred and tasty. The presentation and preparation of the quail is simple, an ideal dish for a country lunch. Today, I broke down the quail and then reassembled them as a small parcels. The process took some time and I only made six parcels, six quails worth. The parcels are now marinating overnight. Tomorrow we will begin working on dishes utilizing these quail packages.
What whacked me on the head was that quail are tiny and take just about the same amount of time to manipulate as a squab or duck. If I made squab parcels I would have generated twelve portions from six squab and if I used duck the amount of portions produced would have been twenty four. Sure, breaking down the larger birds would have taken a bit more time, but not nearly as much as working with twenty four quail. Quail, duck, and squab taste differently and are very different birds. Understanding the application of each within a dish and a menu is essential. In our hands, a quail is best left semi-boneless and grilled, while squabs and ducks lend themselves to more elaborate preparations. It important to understand the economy of scale in order to be able to perform and execute at an elevated level.