Grilled Quail with Fennel and Sweet Potato Risotto

To start off our celebration of JBG’s organic vegetables, available now with a CSA membership, Chef Taylor Byrd builds us a mouthwatering combination of fennel and sweet potato cooked into risotto, topped with Texas quail and finished with crispy fried kale. Elegant, light, and perfectly rich, this preparation combines a range of fresh flavors with wintertime warmth.

Grilled Quail with Fennel & Sweet Potato Risotto, Topped With Crispy Kale

This recipe is organized by the individual components of the dish. The quail should be marinated 2 to 24 hours before grilling (begin preparation with quail marinade found under “Quail”). A reference timing guide is found here (beginning one hour prior to grilling quail):

  • Pick fennel fronds.

  • Cut sweet potato.

  • Clean and remove kale leaves from stalk. Pat dry.

  • Toast sunflower seeds. Season. Remove from pan.

  • Cut onions, fennel, & garlic.

  • Preheat oven.

  • Start cooking risotto

    After second cup of stock (approximately halfway through cooking process):

  • Season and roast sweet potatoes in oven.

  • Remove quail from fridge, remove excess marinate, & rest at room temperature.

  • Finish cooking risotto. (Gently reheat if needed by the time quail is ready).

  • Remove sweet potatoes, set aside (cook times may vary depending on size).

  • Heat pan and oil. Fry kale. Drain on towel lined tray. Season.

  • Season and grill quail. Rest. Cut.

  • Plate

Chef Taylor Bird displaying ingredients for his grilled quail.


  • 1 cup Arborio rice

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 medium to large bulb fennel, sliced thin

  • 1/4 cup fennel fronds, picked

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

  • 1/2 medium to large onion, minced

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil

After marinating overnight, the quail is ready for the grill.

In a heavy bottomed pot, sweat onion and fennel in oil until soft and translucent over medium-high heat, approximately 3-4 minutes.

Add rice. Toast until slightly fragrant, approximately 2 minutes.

Add garlic. Cook for 30 seconds.

Add wine to pot to deglaze the pan. Cook until the wine has reduced by more than half while stirring constantly.

Add 1 cup chicken stock, stirring constantly, until the stock is absorbed by the rice. Repeat this process with the remaining liquid until a creamy texture is reached and the rice is cooked through but still has structural integrity. Note: Additional stock/liquid may be needed to reach final product.

Add parmesan and butter. Stir to incorporate. Taste and season with salt to desired level.

Sweet Potato

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel and cube sweet potato to ½ - ¾ inch pieces.

Toss potato in extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt (1 t)

Place potato on a lined baking tray and roast for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a gentle golden color is reached and the potatoes are just cooked through

Remove from pan and set aside.

Crispy Kale

Wash kale and pat dry. Remove leaves from the stalk.

Heat 1/4 inch of grapeseed oil in a saute pan over high to medium high heat.

Fry kale 30 seconds on each side.

Remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

Season with salt immediately.


Spiced Sunflower Seed

  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast seeds until light golden brown and natural oils have released. Add seasoning, toss to combine, and remove from pan to a new container.


  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest of 1 whole lemon peel
  • zest of 1 whole orange peel

Place quail in a plastic bag or container. Marinate quail in refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours.

Remove excess oil and citrus peels

Season quail with salt, black pepper, and Aleppo pepper

Grill, on high heat, approximately 3-4 minutes per side

Rest the quail for 5 minutes. Cut into quarters by slicing it in half lengthwise and then cutting the breast in half between the wings and back legs.



Spoon ¾ cup risotto into a bowl.

Place ¼ sweet potato cubes in small groups around the outer rim of the risotto.

Place quail on top of risotto.

Top with 1 tbsp spiced seeds.

Squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon juice on the quail.

Add a generous pinch of crispy kale.

Top with 6 to 8 fennel fronds.

Sprinkle small pinch of flaked sea salt.

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