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Grilled Mississippi Quail Wrapped in Benton’s Country Ham with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

From: Executive chef Randall Baldwin, Dyron’s Lowcountry Restaurant, Mountain Brook, AL. Yield: 4 servings.

½ cup white wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
½ bunch parsley leaves, removed and chopped
6 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
1 Tbsp. honey
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1Tbsp. bacon fat
1⁄8 cup crispy bacon lardons with fat reserved

4 quail quarters
4 slices Benton’s country ham, sliced very thin
4 tsp. olive oil
4 soft poached farm eggs
1 bunch wild watercress
1 bunch frisee salad greens
1 cup raw stone ground grits (such as McEwen & Sons)
to taste, salt and freshly ground black pepper

For vinaigrette: In a medium glass bowl, combine vinegar, minced shallot, chopped parsley, thyme and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let rest for 20 minutes. Whisk in olive oil and bacon fat until incorporated. Add half of the lardons, reserving the remaining for plating. Keep vinaigrette warm by placing bowl in a warm shallow water bath.

Prepare grits according to package directions. Keep warm. Cut quail into four pieces—two breasts and two legs. Remove wings. Wrap each quail piece with a slice of ham. Season with pepper and a tsp. of olive oil. Grill quail over medium-hot heat until cooked through and ham is crispy Remove from heat and let rest before plating.

To plate: Spoon a small amount of cooked grits in the center of a plate. Toss the quail, watercress and frisee with the warm vinaigrette and arrange atop the bed of grits. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and reserved lardons.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Dyron’s Lowcountry Restaurant

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