Kevin Garcia Noshes on Mozza’s Pancetta-Wrapped Quail

Mozza's Grilled Quail wrapped in pancetta with sage & honey
Mozza’s Grilled Quail wrapped in pancetta with sage & honey Photo: Mozza

Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, Marc Orfaly of Boston’s Pigalle raved about the robiola pizza that his old college roomie Kevin Garcia makes at New York’s Accademia di Vino. Which dish recently made you flip, Kevin?

Who: Kevin Garcia, chef at Accademia di Vino, New York
What: Grilled Quail wrapped in pancetta with sage & honey
Where: Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
When: Spring, 2010

“I worked with [Mozza chef] Matt Molina at Del Posto, and when I was recently in L.A. I went to Mozza, where he works, and had his quail dish. I was there for dinner, on a date with my girlfriend, and we were sitting side by side instead of across from each other, watching the whole dining room, we had a nice bottle of Barolo, very romantic. I thought that this would pair nicely with my Barolo. I love quail – when it’s cooked right it’s such a gamy, giving little woodland creature. It was grilled quail wrapped with prosciutto, stuffed with more prosciutto and sage, with some grilled radicchio, and a little bit of honey. It was wonderful. It was perfectly grilled.”

Mozza chef Matt Molina responds:

“The quail really starts with a marinade of balsamic and honey that’s sort of an old Mario [Batali] staple. So we took that and just sort of ran with it and did our own thing with it. We wanted to give quail a little bit of life, so we stuffed it with pancetta and a soffritto of white onions, and then added herbs like thyme and sage to make a stuffing for the quail. Then we wrap it in pancetta, skewer it, grill it, and top it with fried sage. We then add the little bit of radicchio to cut the sweetness, as radicchio is bitter.”