Big birds are for celebrations. Medium birds are for everyday. And tiny birds are for everyday celebrations. I’m not sure why quail seem so exotic–they’re tasty, versatile and cook quickly & easily. No one has to argue over who gets the white meat and who gets the dark. In the midst of holiday madness, I feel a greater need to make quiet family dinners a reason to celebrate. We realize how much we depend on our conversations around the family table to connect, to laugh together, to work out problems and to stay organized. This is definitely not a time to stay in the kitchen making elaborate dinners, but a warming, fragrant bowl of citrus-scented greens and juicy grilled quail makes us all happy, ready again to face the flurry of holiday madness to come.
Grilled Quail with Winter Greens Agrodolce
4 semi-boneless quail
3 stems rosemary, needles pulled off & minced
salt & pepper
2 bunches greens (collards, kale, mustard, broccoli greens, brussels sprouts greens, or a combination)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, cut into slivers
juice of 1 orange
2 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs. golden raisins
1 Tbs. capers, rinsed and dried
1/4 c. olive oil + more for sauteeing
salt & pepper
Cover raisins with vinegar. Set aside. Rub quail with rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Heat a cast iron grill pan over med-high heat. Lower heat to medium and grill quail, turning frequently. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet or braising pan and add onions and garlic. Cook over medium low heat until onions are golden. Chop greens and rinse in a colander. Set aside. Drain raisins, reserving vinegar, and add to onions along with capers. Continue cooking over med-low heat. Meanwhile, combine orange juice and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil while whisking constantly until emulsified. Raise heat under onions, and add greens to pan, with water still clinging to the leaves. Stir and continue cooking until greens are tender. Pour half of dressing over hot quail, and stir the remaining into greens. Place piles of greens on dinner plates and serve quail on top.