Chef Octavio Becerra first tasted the classic Italian combination of pine nuts and raisins at a trattoria in Rome's Campo dei Fiori; he was on an eating trek across Europe before helping Joachim Splichal open Patina in Los Angeles in 1989. Becerra uses golden currants here but any dried fruit, like cherries or apricots, would also be good.
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1/4 cup dried currants
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup pine nuts
8 semi-boneless quail
Salt and freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
In a small saucepan, combine the currants, sherry, sherry vinegar and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Add the pine nuts and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Light a grill. Brush the quail with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the quail over high heat, turning once, until browned on the outside and cooked to medium within, about 5 minutes. Transfer the quail to a platter.
Stir the remaining 5 teaspoons of olive oil and the pine nuts into the currants and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture over the quail and serve.
Game birds like quail, which have an earthy flavor, are an ideal match for the rustic red blends of southeast France's Côtes du Roussillon, which tend to be less overtly fruity than California Pinot.
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