Grape-Grilled Quail with Goat Cheese Rounds

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

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12 quail
2 ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 clove garlic
6 (2 oz.) goat cheese rounds
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup dried corn bread crumbs
6 (6″) pieces of thick grape vine clippings, soaked in water
salsa of choice


Cut the wing tips off the quail, then split the birds down the back and remove the backbone. With a knife tip, remove the rib bones from each quail, and then slice open the thigh bones to remove the bones and joint, taking care to keep the skin intact. Open up each quail and press the legs together, securing them with toothpicks.

Simmer the chiles in water for about 15 minutes, then place the chiles in a blender along with the olive oil, orange and lime juices, and the garlic. Puree until smooth. Pour this sauce over the quail and marinate for an hour.

While the quail are marinating, prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire and preheat the oven to 350F. Brush each goat cheese round with a little olive oil and coat with corn bread crumbs. Bake for 5 minutes. If you start the baking just as the quail are being grilled, both should be done at approximately the same time.

Add the grape clippings to the coals and arrange the quail skin side down on the rack, and grill for 2 minutes, taking care not to burn them. Turn the quail and grill for an additional 2 minutes.

If the skin is not yet crisp, turn once more and grill for an additional minute.

Serve 2 quail on each plate with a goat cheese round and garnish with the salsa of your choice.

Yields 6 servings.

Recipe by Dave Dewitt.