Bacon-Wrapped Quail with Pickled Jalapeño Stuffing
Copyright © by Ben Ford from TAMING THE FEAST published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used with permission.
2 smoked ham hocks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 medium-size)
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
4 fresh dates (preferably Medjool), pitted and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
3 pickled jalapeños, thinly sliced
16 semi-boneless quail (about 4 ounces each), rinsed and patted dry
16 4-inch-long fresh rosemary sprigs
32 slices bacon (about 1 pound; not thick-sliced)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
PUT the ham hock in a saucepan, add enough water to cover by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the hock for 2 hours, adding more water if necessary to keep it covered. Drain and set the ham hock aside until it’s cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bone and discard the skin, bone, and fat. Roughly chop the meat. Discard the cooking water.
HEAT the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook them for about 2 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté for another minute, stirring so the garlic doesn’t brown. Add the ham hock meat, dates, and jalapeños and stir to combine.
WORKING one at a time, stuff the cavity of each quail with 2 tablespoons ham hock mixture. Stuff 1 rosemary sprig inside each quail. Lay 2 slices of bacon in a T shape on your work surface. Lay the quail breast up on the bacon, centering it where the slices intersect. Bring each slice up and over, so that one wraps horizontally and the other vertically and they overlap in the center.
PLACE the quail breast side up on a baking sheet. Continue stuffing and wrapping the remaining quail in the same way; leave some space between the quail on the baking sheet. (You may need to use 2 sheets.)
SEASON the quail all over with salt and pepper. The quail can be prepared to this point a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to grill them.
WHEN IT’S TIME TO COOK, fire up a charcoal grill, or fire up a gas grill to high heat with the lid closed to help it get nice and hot, or preheat the broiler.
TO GRILL THE QUAIL, place them on the grill over direct heat and cook for 3 minutes per side. Move the quail to the coolest part of the grill and cook them for another 10 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 160°F. (The meat will still look slightly pink.) Alternatively, to broil the quail, roast them on each side for 8 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 160°F.