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Categories: Mains, Sauces and Condiments

Broiled quail with salmorigano

Broiled quail with salmorigano
Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Every time I pull my Catalan mortar and pestle off the shelf, I think of a late summer lunch at Mas de Daumas Gassac. I'd visited the vineyards and cellar of the wine estate in southern France that morning, and ... Read more

Total time: 20 minutes plus 30 minutes standing time, plus a few days' aging time | Serves 4
Note: The salmorigano recipe is adapted from Judy Rodgers' "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" (W.W. Norton & Co., 2002). Although it's traditionally made with fresh oregano, I like the long, persuasive flavor of dried oregano. I age the salmorigano at room temperature for at least a few days, but it always tastes best when I forget about it for a month or longer. Add the lemon juice and hot water no more than a minute before using the sauce. If using as a marinade, rub the raw meat, poultry or fish with the salmorigano to encourage it to impregnate the flesh with its flavor. Leave to marinate for up to an hour. Roast or grill over medium heat. The water may make the meat stick to the grill or pan, so allow time for that water to evaporate before you try to turn whatever you are cooking.


  • 4 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper or dried chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons simmering water
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Step 1Thickly slice the garlic, then place in a mortar and pound it to rough paste. Add a pinch of salt and pound until smooth, then add the oregano, oil and black pepper or dried chili, pounding lightly as you stir them in with the pestle. Cover and store at room temperature.

Step 2Just before using, add the simmering water, squeeze in the lemon juice, whisk and taste. The sauce should not be tart; the lemon should contribute perfume more than acidity, and the water should tame all sourness to better reveal the fruit of the lemon and scent of the other aromatics.

Step 3Spoon the warm salsa over cooked meat, fish or vegetables.

Quail and assembly

  • 4 quail
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 recipe salmorigano

Step 1Cut out the backbones of the quail and discard. Wash and pat dry.

Step 2Brush the skin side of each quail with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the broiler.

Step 3Place the quail on a rack over a baking sheet. Broil 6 inches from the heat for 7 to 10 minutes skin side up. Remove the quail from the oven and place in a glass baking dish.

Step 4Pour the salmorigano over to cover. Let stand for 30 minutes. Serve.

Each serving:
458 calories; 22 grams protein; 3 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 40 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 83 mg. cholesterol; 204 mg. sodium.
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