Adapting a favorite recipe for wild boar with figs and raisins, Ed Giobbi, artist and well-known Italian food authority, experimented until he came up with this savory quail dish.
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage leaves
8 quail, butterflied
6 dried figs, coarsely chopped
1 cup marsala
2 oz. pancetta, coarsely chopped
3 shallots, peeled and minced
1 cup Chicken Stock
1. Mix together garlic, oil, half the rosemary, and half the sage in a large, shallow bowl. Add quail, mix well, and set aside for 30 minutes. Place chopped figs and marsala in a small bowl and set aside until figs begin to soften, about 30 minutes.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until fat is rendered and pancetta is crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove pancetta from skillet and set aside. Add 4 quail (with marinade) to skillet and brown for about 6 minutes on each side, then remove and set aside; brown remaining quail and set aside.
3. Add shallots to skillet and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add figs and marsala, and cook until pan is almost dry, 5-10 minutes more. Add stock, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium and cook until figs are very soft, 10-15 minutes. Add pancetta and remaining herbs to sauce. Warm quail in sauce, in batches, for about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer quail and sauce to a large platter. Serve with polenta and garnish with fresh figs if desired.