Quail with Zinfandel-Orange Sauce

Quail with Zinfandel-Orange Sauce

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Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 Serves 4.
When cooking with wine, crisp, slightly acidic whites, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, are generally better choices than full-bodied, oaky Chardonnays because they balance out the rich flavors of butter or olive oil. Red wines should be hearty—think Syrah, Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon—rather than a fruity, lighter-bodied Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. Most importantly, a cooking wine should always be good enough to drink, as a poor flavor only intensifies on the stove.


  • 1 cup hearty dry red wine, such as Zinfandel
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 quail, butterflied by the butcher
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbs. water
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter


In a bowl, whisk together the wine, orange juice, shallot, rosemary and orange zest. Pour 1 cup of the wine mixture into a baking dish and whisk in the olive oil to make a marinade. Cover and refrigerate the remaining wine mixture.

Put the quail in the marinade and turn to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for at least 1 hour or for up to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, build a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill with a cover and let burn until the coals are covered with white ash. Leave the coals heaped in the center of the grill; do not spread them out. For a gas grill, preheat on high, then reduce the heat to medium.

Lightly oil the grill rack. Remove the quail from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. For a charcoal grill, place the quail, skin side down, directly over the coals. Grill until the skin is seared, about 3 minutes. Transfer the quail, skin side down, to the perimeter of the grill rack, not directly over the coals. Cover the grill and cook until the quail are barely still pink when cut into at the hip joint, about 20 minutes. For a gas grill, place the quail, skin side down, on the grill. Cover and cook over medium heat, turning once.

About 30 minutes before serving, in a saucepan over high heat, combine the reserved wine mixture and the broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 25 minutes. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and boil until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 Tbs. at a time. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Halve each quail lengthwise. Arrange the halves on warmed individual plates and spoon the sauce around the quail. Serve hot.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
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