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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