Ajo Blanco Quail Breasts

Ajo Blanco-Inspired Quail Breasts

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Fried Quail Breasts with Saffron Ajo Sauce & Grape Gremolata

Makes 6 light appetizer Servings

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.

Ajo Blanco-Inspired Quail Breasts
  • 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.

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