Quail Stuffed with Fresh Ricotta, Bacon, and Greens with Green Garlic-Sweet Pea Puree

I like to serve at least two per person because they are so small. Be careful not to overcook the birds, as they tend to lose their juiciness[. Ask your butcher for semi-boned quail, which have all the bones removed except the very small ones in the thigh, leg and wing. If you can't find frisee, use a mixture of spinach and chard.]

Yield:
Serves 4
Ingredients
  • Green Garlic-Sweet Pea Puree
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stalks green garlic, white part only, finely diced
  • 4 cups sugar snap peas, strings removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Stuffing
  • 1 head frisee
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 strips bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh chervil
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 quail, semi-boneless
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pea sprouts, for garnish
Directions

To prepare the pea puree: Bring a pot of heavily salted water (2 tablespoons salt per quart) to a boil. In a saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Blanch the peas for 3 or 4 minutes in the boiling water. Drain and puree in a food processor or pass through a foodmill. Combine with the sauteed garlic. Taste for seasoning. Set aside. To prepare the stuffing: Wash the frisee, remove the stem, and discard the tough outer leaves. In a saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Saute the frisee until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute until the greens are just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop coarsely. In a saute oan over medium-low heat, cook the bacon until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. Discard the fat. Combine the bacon with the ricotta, Parmesan, herbs, and greens-garlic mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To prepare the quail: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the inside of the quail with salt and pepper. Make a slit in the left leg of each quail and slip the right druntick end through the incision in the left. Fill a piping bag with the stuffing, and pipe the stuffing into the quail opposite the drumsticks, between the wing bones. (Using a piping bag makes it easier. If you don't have one, use a small plastic bag and cut off a corner. You could also spoon the stuffing into the birds.) Do not overfill. Tie the wings together. In a saute pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the quail on both sides. Place them on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the thigh is poked with a sharp knife. To serve, in a saute pan over low heat, reheat the pea puree for a few minutes. Divide among 4 plates. Remove the string from the wings of the quail, and place 2 quail on each plate, on top of the puree. Garnish with pea sprouts.

Wine Notes Quail is not as gamy or "wild" as some fowl, and the flavors are often influenced by ingredients or cooking method. A Pinot Blanc, which has the body of a red wine with the acidity of a white, complements the fuller flavors of the quail and bacon as well as the herbs and greens in the stuffing.


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