I have a soft spot in my heart (and a subscription) for Garden & Gun magazine. I know that it's a "lifestyle" magazine for a lifestyle that I'm quite a long way from embodying, but that's okay. I like the pictures, and a lot of the articles, too.
My own tastes lean much more toward the garden than the gun. The last animal I shot was a squirrel, and I was about 13, and it was with a BB gun, and the shot seemed to annoy the little guy rather than wounding him. I can't conceive of paying $20,000 for a pearl-inlayed shotgun, though the things really are beautiful. But, give me Robb Walsh writing about Gulf Coast oyster bars or P. J. Rourke and Roy Blount, Jr., writing about just about anything and I'm happy.
So, in the latest issue, there's a great looking braised quail recipe from Hugh Acheson of Athens's Five and Ten. It particularly piqued my interest since Boone Hall Farms, which is about a half mile up the road from me, just started carrying whole quail and I've been looking for interesting things to do with it. Scanning the ingredients list of Acheson's recipe (as reported by Francine Maroukian), I noted quail, sea salt, black pepper, leeks, and squash . . . wait . . . squash?
Upon closer inspection, the ingredient was not squash at all but rather "2 squash-ball-size yellow onions, peeled and halved."
Squash-ball sized? It was like being in Toronto all of a sudden and trying to translate $3.75 Canadian dollars per liter to American dollars per gallon and figure out if it was a good price for gas. How the hell big is a squash ball? I know it's small--smaller than a tennis ball definitely, and, yes, probably smaller than a racquet ball, too. I've seen golf-ball sized used a lot in recipes, but why would anyone choose to describe an onion as "squash-ball-size"?
Perplexed, I did a little research.
An official squash ball, as it turns out, is 40 millimeters in diameter, plus or minus .5 mm. A United States Golf Association-approved golf ball, on the other hand, is up to 42.67mm in diameter. I guess I have to admire the desire for precision in this recipe, for surely using an onion that is upwards of 2 mm too large might completely scotch the whole preparation, and, even if using a more common analogy like "golf ball" might make the recipe more accessible to the 99.8% of the population that's never seen a squash ball, you really don't want improperly-sized onions fouling up your braised quail.
But, "New South" measurements aside, it's a damn tasty looking recipe.
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