My husband and I hosted a lavish New Year's Eve dinner party and we wanted the entree to be something very different - not filet mignon, not chicken, not even a lavish fish dish. We decided on oven roasted quail wrapped in pancetta and stuffed with raspberries and thyme. Our guests loved it and were so surprised to be treated to something very different. The mashed celeriac we served with it was also a great change of pace from rice or potatoes. A salad of radicchio or leaf chicory would be perfect with this recipe. The bitterness of the greens offsets the sweetness of the raspberries and the delicacy of the quail. Quail are not used enough in the US. They're festive, inexpensive, cook quickly, and can be served is so many different ways.
Quail Wrapped in Pancetta with Raspberries and Thyme
4 oven-ready quail
20 grams salted butter (soft)
20 grams unsalted butter (soft)
Freshly ground pepper
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
12 raspberries (plus extra to decorate)
20 - 24 thin slices pancetta
4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs thyme
1. Combine the butter with the thyme leaves and pepper and divide into 4 equal sized portions.
2. Carefully lift the skin off the quail breasts (and thighs, if you're very skilful), then stuff the butter underneath and spread evenly by massaging the butter in gently from the outside, pushing it as far down as you can.
3. Stuff the cavities with 3 rasperries, 1 clove garlic and a sprig of thyme each, then wrap the quail tightly with the pancetta.
4. Place the quail in an oven proof dish and place in a preheated oven (400 F.).
5. Roast for 30 - 40 minutes or until the legs wiggle easily in the sockets.
6. Let rest for about 10 minutes, then serve with celeriac mash (cook peeled and diced celeriac in salted water with a squeeze of lemon until very soft, mash, and mix in some butter), and mixed, steamed vegetables of your choice.