Grilled Quail Salad Recipe

A summer salad served with roasted mushrooms and a honey coffee vinaigrette, from Napa Valley chef and cookbook author Cindy Pawlcyn.


Honey Coffee Vinaigrette
2-3 tbsp brewed espresso or double-strength regular coffee
1/4 cup aged Spanish sherry vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
6 partially boned or bone-in quail*
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered**
8 oz. button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered**
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
4-6 cups frisée or curly endive or escarole chicory leaves, white and light green parts only***
2 cups wild or cultivated arugula or watercress, tough stems removed
About 1 tbsp coffee beans, crushed, or cocoa nibs, for garnish

* This salad could be made with Cornish game hens, pheasant, or squab in place of the quail, though you will have to adjust the cooking time according to the bird.

** I like how the white of the button mushrooms contrasts with the shiitake, and I think their different textures play nicely off of each other. Other mushrooms, such as cremini, would work fine, as well.

*** You want to use only the white and pale green parts of the frisée here, but the green trimmings can be saved for soup or for sautéing. If you are not fond of bitter greens, substitute a lettuce of your choice.


Step 1: To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the espresso, vinegar, honey, shallot, salt and pepper until the honey is well incorporated and the salt is fully dissolved. Gradually whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and continue to whisk until well emulsified. Reserve until needed.

Step 2: To make the marinade, mix together half each of the rosemary, thyme, garlic and olive oil. Rinse the birds under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the birds with salt and pepper and rub well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. This is a strong marinade so they won’t need a lot of time.

Step 3: While the birds are marinating, cook the mushrooms. In a large, heavy sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil (or more if needed to coat the pan lightly) over high heat. Tilt the pan to spread the oil. In rapid succession, add the mushrooms, lemon juice and lemon zest, then cover and cook, shaking the pan, for 3-5 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to brown around the edges. Add the remaining rosemary, thyme, and garlic and cook for another minute or two, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add half of the vinaigrette and cook until the liquid in the pan is almost completely absorbed by the mushrooms. Remove from the heat and reserve until ready to serve.

Step 4: To cook the quail, prepare a medium-hot charcoal and/or wood fire in a grill. If you are working with bone-in birds, split them at the backbone so they can be laid flat on the grill; if the breastbones have been removed, tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders to keep the breasts uncovered for nice grilling.

See more recipes from Cindy Pawlcyn.

Reprinted with permission from Cindy Pawlcyn’s Cindy’s Supper Club (2012 Ten Speed Press).