In this dish the sour tomatillos add body and a tangy background to the deep, earthy chile sauce that the quail simmers in.
- 1 1⁄2 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 12 dried árbol chiles, stemmed
- 6 dried cascabel chiles, stemmed
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
- 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 quail (about 1 1⁄2 lbs.), halved lengthwise, wingtips removed, rinsed and dried well
- 2 tsp. steak seasoning, preferably McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add tomatillos and boil until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set tomatillos aside.
Preheat oven to 350°. Working over a large piece of aluminum foil, break open chiles, spilling seeds onto the foil. Wrap foil over chiles and seeds to form a package and roast in oven until fragrant and darkened, about 15 minutes. Put chiles with seeds, garlic, and 1 cup water into a blender and purée until smooth. Add tomatillos, cumin, and salt to taste and blend just until incorporated, leaving tomatillos chunky. Set tomatillo–chile mixture aside.
Heat 4 tbsp. of the oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook quail on each side until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer quail to a paper towel–lined plate and wipe skillet clean. Reduce heat to low, add remaining oil, and return quail to skillet. Sprinkle quail with steak seasoning and cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Add tomatillo–chile mixture to skillet with quail, stir to combine, cover, and simmer until falling apart and very tender, about 2 hours. Divide quail between 4 bowls and serve with warm corn tortillas, if you like.