Grilled Quail with Braised Lentils and Sherry Reduction

posted: 06/30/10


For the quail:

  • 4 whole large quail (each about 6 ounces/170 g)
  • 1 orange (zest only)
  • 1 lemon (zest only)
  • 1 lime (zest only)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons/60 ml olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 bacon slices

For the lentils:

  • 1 1/2 cups/300 g green lentils
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut in half crosswise
  • 1 celery stalk, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons/30 ml olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 large head radicchio, cut into 1-inch-/2.5-cm-wide strips
  • 2/3 cup/150 ml dry white wine

For the sherry reduction:

  • 1 cup/225 ml sherry vinegar


To marinate the quail:

  1. Using a large heavy sharp knife, cut one quail in half lengthwise so that you have two pieces, each with one breast, wing, thigh and leg. Then halve each half again to separate the breast and wing from the thigh and leg. Repeat with the remaining quail.
  2. Place the quail pieces in a large baking dish. Sprinkle the zests and garlic over the quail. Drizzle with the oil then massage the oil and zest into the quail. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours.
  3. Place the sherry in a heavy small sauce pan over medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced by half.
  4. Rinse the lentils under cold running water, then strain and place them in a heavy large saucepan. Add 4 cups/1 liter of water or enough to cover the lentils by about 2 inches/5 cm.
  5. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves and rosemary. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the lentils are just tender but still hold their shape.
  6. Strain the lentils and reserve the cooking liquid separately. Discard the vegetables. Scatter the lentils over a large baking sheet and cool to room temperature.
  7. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and saut? for 2 minutes or until the shallots are tender. Add the radicchio and saut? for 2 minutes or until it begins to wilt. Stir in the lentils.
  8. Add the white wine and simmer for 5 minutes or until the wine reduces by about half. Stir in enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten the lentils. Return the liquid to a simmer. Season the lentils generously to taste with salt and pepper.

To grill the quail and bacon and serve:

  1. Heat a large grill pan with high sides over high heat. Be sure to use a grill pan that has at least 1-inch-/2.5-cm-high sides so that the pan drippings from the bacon do not ignite.
  2. Lay the bacon slices over the hot grill pan and cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  3. Discard the excess pan drippings from the pan then return the pan to medium-high heat. Sprinkle the quail on all sides with salt and pepper. Place the quail skin side down on the hot pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the skin is golden and dark grill marks appear.
  4. Turn the quail pieces over and cook for 3 to 5 minutes longer or until the meat is just cooked through. Spoon the lentils onto the center of each serving plate and stack the quail and bacon on top of the lentils. Drizzle the sherry reduction on the plate around the lentils and serve.
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