Grilled Quail with Tapenade Toasts

Quail Grilled over Vine Cuttings with Tapenade Toasts
Quail Grilled over Vine Cuttings with Tapenade ToastsJustin Walker

Don't be intimidated by quail—it's easy to cook and, treated right, far more delicious than the average chicken. This recipe is best grilled but can also be made in a hot oven over a bed of thyme branches. Two quail make a serving.

Grilled Quail with Tapenade Toasts
Thyme perfumes smoky quail in this Provence-style dish, which is best served with grilled baguette toasts topped with black olive tapenade.
Yield: serves 4
Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 quail, about 4 oz. each
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. chopped thyme
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
  • 2 cups dry white or rosé wine
  • Thyme branches, as needed
  • 8 day-old baguette slices, cut 1/2-inch thick on a long diagonal
  • Black Olive Tapanade

Instructions

  1. Put quail in a deep-sided dish, wide enough to hold them in one layer. Season each bird generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Put a pinch of thyme in the cavity of each bird. Distribute the juniper berries, garlic, and bay leaves in the pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the quail; then, using your hands, coat with the oil and seasonings. Add the wine and let the quail marinate for at least 2 hours at room temperature, turning occasionally.
  2. Light a grill and, if using vine cuttings, lay them over the heated charcoal. Remove quail from marinade and pat dry. Place a grate over the coals when they are medium-hot and let it heat. Oil lightly.
  3. Lay the quail on the grill in one layer. Scatter thyme branches over the quail and let them cook for about 8 minutes, or until golden on one side. Turn them over, allowing thyme branches to smolder. Grill for another 8 minutes or so, until cooked through. Make sure they are cooked adequately. They should be firm, well-browned, but not scorched. Juices should run clear when quail are probed with a paring knife. Transfer grilled quail to a warm platter to rest.
  4. Lightly brush baguette slices with oil, and toast on both sides on the grill until golden. Spread lightly with tapenade and tuck one toast beneath each bird.