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Quail with Polenta Cakes and Bean Vinaigrette

by in Sep 2004
Quail with Polenta Cakes and Bean Vinaigrette
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Total Time: 80

This dish may sound complicated, but each component is very simple to make, and most can be made ahead of time.

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  • 8 whole “boneless” quail (wings and drumsticks intact)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 strips bacon, divided into 4 pieces each
  • 1/4 cup canola oil


Preheat oven to 400°. Wash quail and pat dry. Season quail with salt and pepper; stuff each with a piece of bacon. Add canola oil to a pan on medium-high heat and sear quail on breast side, pressing occasionally with spatula to ensure even cooking, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn quail and cook on other side until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a sheet pan and roast 3 minutes, or until meat at thigh bone is pale pink. Remove from oven and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.



  • 1 cup white beans (such as navy beans)
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 3 cups plus 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 pound chunk Vermont ham
  • Bean Vinaigrette:
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil (Ted uses a mix of 2 parts regular olive oil to 1 part extra-virgin olive oil)


Soak beans overnight in water. Drain and place beans in a pot with 3 cups chicken stock and ham. Simmer, covered, about 1 hour, or until tender, adding up to 2 cups of additional stock if necessary.

While the beans are cooking, make the Bean Vinaigrette.

Whisk together lemon, shallot, salt, and pepper. Add oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until ingredients are well combined. Set aside.

When the beans are tender, drain any residual stock, remove ham, and place the beans, while still warm, into the vinaigrette. Refrigerate, uncovered. If making a day ahead, cover the beans as soon as they are fully cooled.

Polenta Cakes


  • 3/4 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


In a medium pot, add 3/4 cup polenta or cornmeal, milk, heavy cream, cayenne, and salt over medium-high heat. Whisk until blended, making sure to scrape bottom of the pot to incorporate polenta or cornmeal fully. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 25 to 30 minutes, stirring constantly. Adjust seasoning, if needed, by adding salt and cayenne. Pour into a 9x13-inch sheet pan lined with plastic wrap; refrigerate. When cool, cut into circles (4 inches in diameter) or triangles; set aside, or wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.


  • 1/4 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup oil, divided
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced ham, cut lengthwise into thin strips

Dredge cakes in polenta or cornmeal. Add 1/4 cup oil to a skillet over medium heat and saut

Updated Monday, August 16th, 2004

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