Amateur Holiday Cook-Off

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More Holiday Recipes

  Broiled Quail With Blood-Orange-and-Pomegranate Glaze, Warm Vegetable-and-Wilted-Arugula Salad, and Crispy Polenta Triangles

The Chef
Nancy Verdolini

Serves 6

1/2 cup fresh blood-orange juice (Valencia orange juice can be substituted)
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
French sea salt and cracked Tellicherry peppercorns
6 quails

Quail Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
1 carrot, finely diced
1 small celery stalk, finely diced
1 small leek, white part only, finely diced
Reserved quail bones
1/3 cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
11/2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
French sea salt and cracked Tellicherry peppercorns

Warm Vegetable Salad 3 small zucchini
French sea salt and cracked Tellicherry peppercorns
3 small beets
6 ounces haricots verts
1/4 cup fresh blood-orange juice
3 tablespoons chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 teaspoon seasoned rice-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/4 pound small arugula leaves

Crispy Polenta Triangles
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
11/2 teaspoons French sea salt
11/2 tablespoons butter plus butter to line pan

Cooking Instructions
In a small saucepan over low heat, reduce orange juice to 3 tablespoons. Add sugar and pomegranate molasses, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Split the quails down their backs, and remove and reserve all bones, except leg bones. Put all but 2 tablespoons of the cooled marinade in a Ziploc bag, and add quail. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Two hours before serving, dry quail with paper towels, and place them skin-side up on a foil-lined broiler pan. Refrigerate the pan uncovered, to let the skin dry out.

Preheat broiler. Season the quail with salt and pepper, and brush with reserved glaze. Broil about 5 minutes, until skin is crispy and quail is medium-rare.

Quail Sauce
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, add carrots, celery, and leeks, and sweat until soft. Add quail bones, increase heat to medium, and brown. Add wine, and reduce until it has evaporated. Add stock and thyme, bring almost to a boil, and reduce until 11/2 cups remain. Strain, and return sauce to a clean pot. Refrigerate until well chilled, and skim fat from the surface.

When ready to serve, reheat sauce, whisk in pomegranate molasses and remaining butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Warm Vegetable Salad
Preheat broiler. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise, sprinkle with salt, and broil cut-side up until deep brown. Let cool, then cut into 1/2-inch dice.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wrap beets in 2 layers of foil, and bake until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Let cool, then peel, and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Cook haricots verts in boiling salted water until tender. Drain, let cool, and cut 1/2-inch batons.

In a small saucepan set over low heat, reduce orange juice to 11/2 tablespoons. In another small saucepan set over low heat, reduce chicken stock to 1 tablespoon. Mix together juice, stock, vinegar, and oil in a small jar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. In a bowl, mix together warm vegetables, arugula, and dressing.

Crispy Polenta Triangles
Bring 2 cups water to boil in a 1-quart saucepan, add salt, and slowly stir in cornmeal. Cook over low heat until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan (the time will vary depending on the grind of the cornmeal), then stir in 1/2 tablespoon butter.

Spread an even layer of polenta in a 5-by-10-inch pan lined with plastic wrap. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill several hours. Cut polenta in half lengthwise, and cut each half into 6 even triangles. Brush both sides of each triangle with melted butter. Line a baking pan with foil, and lightly butter foil. Arrange polenta in pan, and, after quail are cooked, broil until hot and crispy. To assemble: Mound a portion of salad in the centers of six large plates, and top with the quail. Place a polenta triangle on either side of quail, and drizzle the sauce around the salad.