Chef D’Amato makes this dish with squab, which is delicious, but also hard to find in our area. In our version we use quail, which can be found at River Valley Market year-round and Whole Foods in the fall. Visit EdiblePioneerValley.com for Chef D’Amato’s original squab recipe.
Quail isn’t something we cook often, but it’s a great bird to add to your repertoire. It’s quick and easy to cook, and it looks very impressive on the plate. Although there are many components to this dish, much of the prep work can be done ahead of time. For a different springtime presentation, the quail and rhubarb essence would also be fantastic with grilled Hadley grass!
You may also substitute chicken thighs for the quail. In this case marinate the chicken overnight and be sure to grill it longer, so that it cooks through, about 15–20 minutes over medium heat.
Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as an entrée.
4 semi-boneless quail
1 stalk rhubarb (about 3 ounces), thinly sliced
1 large shallot, sliced
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns, crushed
Using kitchen shears or a chef’s knife, cut each quail in half through the breastbone and backbone, resulting in two mirror-image halves from each bird. Place all of the ingredients in a large Ziploc bag and marinate, refrigerated for 3 hours, turning once.
This can be made a day ahead if you wish.
2 cups fresh rhubarb juice (from juiced fresh rhubarb)
⅓ cup grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons granulated sugar, or to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pour ¼ cup of the rhubarb into a small saucepan. (This gives you a visual guide to the amount of liquid you want to end up with after this reduction step.) Add the rest of the juice, bring to a boil and reduce to ¼ cup.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Taste to check seasoning and adjust to your taste, adding sugar and salt as needed.
1 stalk rhubarb (about 3 ounces), cut in ¼-inch-thick slices on the bias
Granulated sugar, to coat the rhubarb
Preheat oven to 225°. In a bowl, toss the rhubarb with enough sugar to coat it. Place the pieces on a parchment paper-lined sheet tray and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until half dry. When cool, cover and store at room temperature.
Candied Radishes and Scallions
8 radishes (4 ounces), greens removed and cut in quarters
2 ounces (¼ cup) water
1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
Freshly ground black pepper (divided)
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
4 scallions, root ends cut off and cut in 1-inch pieces on the bias
In a small sauté pan, place the radishes, the ¼ cup water, 1½ teaspoons oil, 1½ teaspoons of the sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, several grinds of black pepper and the cardamom. Cover and bring up to a boil over medium-high heat, boil for 1 minute, remove the cover and cook until the radishes are knife-tender and the water is gone. (If radishes need a bit more time, add a few more drops of water.) Continue sautéing and let the radishes glaze for about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice and toss until the pan is dry and the radishes are glazed and cooked; remove to a plate.
Rinse out the pan, add the remaining water, the remaining oil, the remaining sugar, the remaining salt, the remaining pepper and the scallions and place over high heat. When the water is evaporated, toss the scallions to glaze for 30 seconds, then add to the cooked radishes.
To Finish the Dish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Candied Radishes and Scallions
1½ cups fresh frisée
Remove the quail from the marinade and season lightly with salt and pepper. Prepare a grill to medium-high heat (charcoal, gas, or grill pan). Grill the quail for about 3–4 minutes per side, or to your desired doneness. Let rest for a few minutes while you finish the plates.
Distribute the warmed Candied Radishes and Scallions on the plates. In a large bowl, season the frisée lightly with salt and pepper and toss with just enough Rhubarb Essence to moisten. Add to the plate, and then place the quail on your plates. Garnish the plates with the remaining Rhubarb Essence and the Candied Rhubarb.