Fried Quail Breasts with Saffron Ajo Sauce & Grape Gremolata
A riff on the flavors of the famous Ajo Blanco chilled soup in Spain. We’ve added saffron to bring a warm golden color to the sauce – so it’s not so blanco anymore. It has the bold flavor of saffron with the nuttiness of almonds, bite of sherry vinegar, and savory garlic. A playful chopped grape & parsley gremolata adds brightness & additional color.
Ingredients: Makes 6 Light Appetizer Servings
20 Boneless Quail Breasts
2 tbsp Cornstarch
Neutral-Flavored High Heat Oil for Frying (grapeseed, canola, etc)
Salt and Pepper
Saffron Ajo Sauce:
1 head of Garlic
1 + 2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 pinch Saffron Threads
1-inch of Baguette or one slice White Bread, crust removed
1 cup Almonds
½ cup Water
2 tbsp + 1 tsp Sherry Vinegar (we used Gran Reserva Sherry Vinegar)
Green Grape Gremolata:
¼ cup minced Shallot
¼ cup Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1 cup Green Grapes
1 tbsp minced Flat Leaf Parsley
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch salt, to taste
20 flat or 40 round Small Bamboo Skewers
Make the Saffron Ajo Sauce:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Chop the top off the garlic head, coat it in 1 tbsp of the olive oil, and wrap it in aluminum foil. Bake it for 30-35 minutes, until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Unwrap and let cool.
- Bloom 1 pinch of saffron in 2 tbsp warm water.
- Soak the bread briefly in warm water until softened.
- Boil 2 cups of water. Place the almonds in a heatproof bowl, and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 3-4 minutes, then drain and squeeze them out of their skins.
- Put the blanched and peeled almonds (drained) into a food processor or blender. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their head and add them. Add the saffron and the water it was bloomed in, plus the additional ½ cup of water.
- Lift the bread from the water and squeeze it slightly to drain, then add it, too (without the additional soaking water). Puree the mixture until it’s smooth.
- While running, stream in the sherry vinegar and the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Salt to taste.
Make the Green Grape Gremolata:
- Place the shallot in a small bowl and cover it with seasoned rice wine vinegar. Let the shallot soak for 6-8 minutes, then drain the pieces out of the vinegar with a small strainer.
- Quarter the green grapes. Combine them with the shallots, parsley, and olive oil. Gently mix to combine, then salt to taste.
Finish the Dish:
- In a small saucepan, heat your frying oil to 350°F.
- Toss each quail breast in cornstarch, shake off any excess, and thread it onto 1 (flat) or 2 (round) skewers.
- When all your skewers are made, fry them in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes each. Drain the breasts on paper towels and lightly salt them immediately.
- Spread a schmear of Saffron Ajo Sauce on each plate. Top with 1-2 quail breast skewers. Scatter with green grape gremolata and serve immediately.