Join Culinate

With a free Culinate membership, you can:

  • Create your own recipe collections
  • Queue recipes for later use
  • Blog your culinary endeavors
  • Be part of our online community of cooks
  • And much more…
Join Now

Grilled Quail with Chanterelles, Pancetta, and Soft Polenta

From the book The Wild Table by and
Serves 6

Introduction

For both Sarah and me, fall is branded with the memories of our big fathers toting home these little birds. This recipe could as easily be called our “Daddy’s Bagged Georgia Quail over Grits with Bacon and Wild Mushrooms.” This is just so delicious. Little game birds nested beside “Italian grits” with corn-loving chanterelles draped over the browned birdie skin is as autumn as autumn can be.

Ingredients

For the quail

12 boneless quail
~ Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 thin slices pancetta

For the quail jus

1 Tbsp. pure olive oil
2 thin slices pancetta, cut into ¼-inch dice
~ Reserved quail wings (above)
cup finely diced onion
1 garlic clove, finely minced
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 cups homemade chicken stock

For the chanterelles

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ lb. cleaned chanterelles, torn into ½-inch pieces
½ tsp. kosher salt
tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
~ Reserved quail jus (above)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the polenta

1 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
¾ cup polenta or coarse-ground cornmeal
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

Steps

  1. For the quail: Cut the wings off the quail at the breast and set aside to make the sauce. Season the quail lightly with salt and pepper. (Or brine them ahead of time; see Note, below.)
  2. Wrap each quail with a slice of the pancetta, overlapping the slices on the back of the quail. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.
  3. For the quail jus: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until softened and just starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the quail wings, stirring occasionally, then add the onion, garlic, and salt. Continue cooking until the wings are browned and the onion and garlic are tender, 4 to 5 more minutes. Add the chicken stock scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate all the cooked bits. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until reduced to about ¾ cups liquid, 12 to 14 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, discard the solids, and set aside until ready to cook the chanterelles.
  4. For the chanterelles: Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and bubbling, add the chanterelles, tossing to coat evenly with the butter. Add the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid. Continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to brown and caramelize.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the quail jus and turn the heat to high. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pan juices are slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and hold the mushrooms in a warm place until it’s time to finish the dish.
  6. For the polenta: Place 4 cups water and the salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Slowly add the polenta, whisking continuously to prevent lumping. When the mixture returns to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for at least 35 minutes, or until the polenta is tender. You may need to whisk in additional water, ¼ cup at a time, if the polenta gets took thick while cooking.
  7. Whisk in the butter, Parmesan, and pepper. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or pepper as needed. Thin with additional water, if needed. Remove from the that, cover, and hold in a warm place while you grill the quail.
  8. To finish: Prepare a grill to medium-high heat. Place the quail on the grill, back side down, and sear the ends of the pancetta slices together. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, then carefully turn over the quail, being careful to keep the pancetta slices intact. Cook for 5 to 6 more minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove the quail from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. (You can pull them off earlier if you like your quail medium rare.)
  9. Stir the polenta, adding water if needed to thin the texture. Rewarm the mushrooms.
  10. For individual servings, divide the polenta among 6 deep bowls or dishes. Top with 2 quail per person and spoon over some chanterelles and jus. Garnish with the parsley. For family style, spoon the polenta into the center of a large platter. Lay the quail down the middle and spoon over the chanterelles and jus. Garnish with the parsley.

Notes

Tips and techniques: Brining the quail a day ahead gives them more flavor and makes them more moist and succulent when cooked. Use a proportion of 2 tablespoons kosher salt to 2 quarts water, plus 1 bay leaf, 3 fresh thyme sprigs, and 1 crushed garlic clove for the brining mixture.

The quail jus can be made a day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container overnight or up to a week. Homemade chicken stock is best here, but you can use water instead, for a lighter flavor. If using canned chicken broth, use less salt and adjust the seasoning at the end of cooking.

The brined quail can be wrapped with the pancetta and refrigerated for up to 6 hours before cooking. It’s best to do it the day it will be cooked and served, not a day ahead.

Related article: Foraging how-tos

This content is from the book The Wild Table by Connie Green and Sarah Scott.

Subscribe
Comments
There are no comments on this item
Add a comment
Unrated
Rating

Think before you type

Culinate welcomes comments that are on-topic, clean, and courteous. For the benefit of the community we reserve the right to delete comments that contain advertising, personal attacks, profanity, or which are thinly disguised attempts to promote another website.

Please enter your comment

Format: Bare URLs are automatically linked; use this style: [http://www.example.com "place text to be linked here"] for prettier links. You may specify *bold* or _italic_ text. No HTML please.

Please identify yourself

Not a member? Sign up!

Please prove that you’re not a computer


Advertisement
Our Table

Joy of Cooking app

A new tool for the kitchen

The latest in our collection of cooking apps.

Subscribe
Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer

Reviews

Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice