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Grilled Spiced Quail with Shaved Fennel & Yogurt

This spicy citrus marinade keeps the quail meat juicy while giving it a beautiful char on the grill. The quails are extremely succulent and flavorful and make an elegant first course.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4 first-course servings

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  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oregano leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 3 fresh or jarred Calabrian chiles (see Note)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 semiboneless quail (see Note)
  • Saba (see Note) or aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  • Shaved fresh fennel, plain Greek yogurt and lime wedges, for serving


  1. In a blender, combine the olive oil with the parsley, orange juice, kaffir lime leaves, oregano, garlic, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and chiles; puree until nearly smooth, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer the marinade to a large resealable plastic bag, add the quail and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 8 hours.
  2. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Remove the quail from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill the quail over high heat, turning once, until the outside is nicely charred and the breast meat is pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer the quail to plates, breast side up. Drizzle a little vinegar over the quail and serve with shaved fennel, yogurt and lime wedges.


Spicy red Calabrian chiles and saba, a sweet grape-must reduction, are available at Italian groceries and gourmet food markets. Semiboneless quail usually have had their breast- and backbones removed, but their wing and leg bones are left intact.

Suggested Pairing

Bright, cool-climate Pinot Noir.

Photo © Christina Holmes

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