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Quail Roasted In Polenta


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  • 12 wild or farm-raised quail or other small game birds - (6 to 8 oz ea) necks removed
  • 3 tablespoons Coriander-Fennel Rub (listed below) (or seasoning of choice)
  • Polenta (listed below)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic clove chopped
  • Fresh rosemary or parsley sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 cups homemade chicken stock (or reduced-sodium chicken broth)
  • Coarse salt as needed
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup semolina see * Note
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Servings 6


Step 1

* Note: Semolina is a finely ground durum (hard wheat). If you wish, substitute another 1/2 cup of cornmeal for the semolina.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9- by 9-inch baking dish.

Season birds with rub. Set aside while you prepare the polenta. Pour polenta into baking dish.

In a large skillet, heat oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Add birds; thoroughly brown on all sides. Remove pan from the heat. Let birds cool until they can be handled without burning your fingers.

Arrange quail in a circle by taking each bird and standing it upright in the polenta, breast meat facing out. Gently push the bird down into the polenta until it can stand by itself. Put the next bird alongside the first and repeat for the remaining quail.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the juices run a rosy color when a bird is poked with a fork (do not overcook). Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary or parsley.

For the Coriander-Fennel Rub: Put fennel and coriander seeds in a small pan over high heat. Toast for 2 to 3 minutes, until seeds turn a deep golden brown. Put seeds in a food processor fitted with a steel blade; process until finely ground. Mixture does not have to be perfectly smooth. Combine with salt and peeper. Store in an airtight jar. (Makes 1/4 cup)

For the Polenta: Heat stock and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until almost boiling. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Combine cornmeal and semolina; slowly stir into hot stock, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. To avoid lumps, continue stirring until mixture begins to thicken, 24 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the cheese and butter. Season with salt, if necessary. For quail roasted in polenta, immediately pour polenta into the prepared baking dish.

This recipe yields 6 servings.

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