For the sauce: Make an X over the flat ends of the chestnuts with a small sharp knife. Toast in oven at 350 degrees F 10 to 12 minutes. Bring 1 quart water to a boil and drop in the chestnuts. Boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes and drain. Set aside to cool. When the chestnuts are cool enough to handle, peel the shells and remove the skins. Place them in the blender.
Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the garlic and anise seed until lightly browned. Add the rose petals, and the cactus or plums and saute 1 to 2 minutes. Add to the blender with honey, salt and pepper and puree while slowly adding 1 cup stock or water.
Strain the puree into a skillet and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring. Add red food coloring if desired and set aside, covered.
For the quail: Season quail with salt and pepper and stuff each with an onion slice and garlic clove. Tie legs together with string. Saute the quail in butter to brown, then pan roast for 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degrees F.
Reheat the sauce if necessary. Add the quail to the sauce and stir, covering the birds completely, for 3 minutes. Serve 2 quail per person with plain white rice to absorb all the lovely, perfumed sauce.
Copyright 1996, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved