Boned Quail wrapped in Pancetta and stuffed with Figs, Polenta and Balsamic Reduction

From Quirinale, mouth-watering fig-stuffed roasted quails wrapped in pancetta, with a rich balsamic sauce and golden polenta
Boned Quail wrapped in Pancetta and stuffed with Figs, Polenta and Balsamic Reduction
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: medium



  • 1 tbsp grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 6 large free-range quail, ready-boned and spatchcocked
  • 6 small black figs, topped and tailed
  • 1-2 tbsp rosemary, sage and thyme, finely chopped
  • 24 thin slices pancetta
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • lightly cooked spinach, to serve

For the polenta:

  • 800 ml water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200 g polenta

For the sauce:

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 50 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 300 ml chicken stock, preferably home-made
  • knob of butter
  • salt, and freshly ground black pepper

Tips and Suggestions

Ask your butcher to bone and spatchcock the quails.


1. Combine the mustard and honey in a small bowl. Open out the quails with the breast side down and brush a thin layer of the honey and mustard mixture over the surface. Place a fig in the centre of each quail. Wrap the quail legs and breast around the fig tightly so it is completely covered. Sprinkle the quail with the herb mixture. Wrap each quail in four slices of pancetta, covering as much of the quail as possible. Set aside while you make the polenta.

2. Preheat the oven to 230°C/gas 8.

3. To make the polenta, bring the water and salt to the boil in a large saucepan, then turn the heat down to a medium simmer. Using a long-handled wooden spoon (the polenta will spit as it boils) stir with one hand and use the other to add the polenta in a steady stream, a fistful at a time. Keep stirring and adding polenta, making sure each fistful is absorbed before adding the next. Keep stirring vigorously and frequently for 15-20 minutes until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan. To serve wet, spoon it into a serving dish and keep warm. Otherwise, pour it onto a board, level with a wet palette knife and leave to cool and firm before frying or grilling.

4. Finish the quail while the polenta is cooking. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based oven-proof frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the quail and sear on all sides.

5. Put the pan in the preheated oven and roast the quail for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

6. To make the sauce, skim the fat from the pan used for the quail. Add the shallots and garlic and gently fry over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.

7. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and let it reduce until syrupy.

8. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until slightly reduced, then finish it off with a knob of butter.

9. Place the quail on warmed serving plates with the sauce poured over. Serve with spinach and the polenta.

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