Grilled Quail Wrapped in Pancetta with Sage and Honey
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Grilled Quail Wrapped in Pancetta with Sage and Honey
Chef Matt Molina of Osteria Mozza – Los Angeles, CA
Adapted by
November 2009
Yield: 4 Servings


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup medium diced pancetta
1 large chopped Spanish onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic  
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary needles
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Marinated Quail:
8 semi-boneless quail
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh thyme sprigs
16 slices of pancetta
Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 radicchio leaves

Assemble and Serve:
Olive oil for frying the sage 
20 fresh sage leaves
Balsamico Condimento
Extra virgin olive oil


For the Stuffing:
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook just to render the fat, not to brown, 8 to10 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Season with the pepper and cook until onion is tender and translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent browning. Remove the stuffing from the heat and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate stuffing overnight or for at least 2 hours. 

For the Marinated Quail:
Soak 8 bamboo skewers in water for several hours. Rinse the quail and pat dry with paper towels; check for any remaining bones or feathers. Combine the vinegar, onion, honey, and pepper in a bowl or non-reactive baking dish large enough to hold the quail. Add the quail to the marinade; turn the bird to coat with the marinade on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the quail from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Working with 1 quail at a time, open up the legs of the quail and spoon 2 tablespoons of stuffing inside the cavity. Cross the legs to close in the stuffing. Repeat with the remaining quail. Slide bamboo skewer through the bottom leg and then through the top leg. Rotate the skewer so it’s perpendicular to the legs. Repeat with the remaining skewers and quail. Stack the pancetta 2 slices thick and wrap it around the quail, overlapping while moving toward the top of the quail to cover as much of the body as possible. Repeat with the remaining pancetta and quail. Season with salt and pepper.  

For the Radicchio:
Combine the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the radicchio leaves and massage the marinade into the leaves. Set aside while you grill the quail.

For the Quail:
Heat the grill to high. Put the quail breast-side up on the grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until they are browned and the pancetta is crispy. Continue to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, turning often to prevent the outsides from burning. To check for doneness, squeeze the quail at the thickest point; if the flesh feels firm, the quail is done. If the flesh feels soft and squishy, it needs to cook longer. Remove the quail to a plate to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

To Assemble and Serve:
While the quail is resting, place the radicchio on the grill and cook for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, turning occasionally, until it is deep brown and caramelized in places but not crispy.
Meanwhile, line a plate with paper towels. Pour enough olive oil in a small sauté pan to fill it about ½-inch deep. Heat the oil over medium heat just before smoking. Drop the sage leaves in the oil and fry for about 10 seconds, until they are crispy and barely golden. Remove the sage leaves to the paper towels and sprinkle them with salt.

Remove the skewers from the quail. Drape two radicchio leaves in the center of a plate. Place one quail on top of each serving of radicchio and rest the other quail in another direction on top of the first. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of honey over and around each serving of quail. Follow by drizzling each serving with 1 teaspoon of the balsamico condimento and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Scatter the sage leaves over the quail, dividing them evenly among the four plates.