Quail with Fig Sauce

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.

Quail with Fig Sauce
This recipe combines sweet figs and fragrant herbs with salty pancetta to create a savory and memorable dish.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.