Grilled Quail with Bitter Greens Salad

Makes 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time

Gary's Poultry Marinade will improve any bird, but quail, with their very slight gaminess and delightfully dense meat, seem to have been made for it.

Many times, quail are sold with their breastbones removed. If that's how you find them, or you have a cooperative butcher, that's great. Otherwise, removing the breastbone is a task I wouldn't wish on anyone. The alternative is to semi-bone the quail as described in the Broiled Squab with Jordan Almonds (page 124) deboning the breast while leaving wing and leg intact. Cooking time for these half-boned birds will be just over half the time given above.

You could also use spatchcocked (split) Cornish hens or even a cut-up chicken (both will take longer to cook than the quail), marinated and served in the same way. Just make sure you're using the best balsamic vinegar you can find. In any case, you can broil the quail (or their alternatives) instead of grilling them; cooking time will remain about the same.

4 quail, breastbones removed
1 recipe Poultry Marinade (recipe follows)
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar, or to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
6 ounces assorted bitter greens, such as arugula, frisee, chicory, or endive
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1. Marinate the boned quail with the Poultry Marinade in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours, turning occasionally.

2. When you're ready to cook, start a charcoal or gas grill; the fire should be moderately hot, and the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Rub a large bowl thoroughly with the garlic. Add the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper and whisk. Check for seasoning, adjust as necessary, and leave the garlic clove to macerate in the vinaigrette while you grill the quail.

3. Grill the quail over direct heat, turning as it browns, for about 15 minutes total, until nicely browned and just cooked through. Remove the quail from the grill and allow to rest.

4. Add the greens and pomegranate seeds to the large bowl with the vinaigrette; toss them gently with your hands until evenly coated. Transfer the dressed greens to a large serving platter, arrange the grilled quail alongside, and serve.

Poultry Marinade

Makes: about 1 cup
Time: 10 minutes

1/2 cup California Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt

1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well to blend thoroughly (emulsify). Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using it to marinate the quail or other poultry.