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Cheer Perfection

Upgrade your holiday meal with recipes from great American chefs

Houston, Texas

The 2010 “Top Chef Masters” contestant recently transformed her Houston restaurant, T’afia, into the homey Sparrow Bar + Cookshop. Her grilled quail served with spicy grits and an herb-filled gremolata is a perfect example of her Southern-inspired, seasonally driven approach—and a beautiful centerpiece for the holiday table.


For grits:
3 c. water
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1 c. grits

For honey gremolata:
1 c. flat-leaf parsley
1/2 c. fresh oregano
1 clove garlic
3/4 t. lemon zest
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. honey
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

For quail:
4 semi-boneless quail
2 t. ground cumin
Salt and pepper

1. To make grits: Bring water, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to a boil. Add grits; reduce heat. Cook slowly, stirring often, until grits are soft. Remove from heat, cover and let stand.

2. To make gremolata: Put parsley, oregano, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and honey into food processor and process until chunky. With processor running, slowly add olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 400, and heat grill pan over medium. Season quail with cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Grill each until marked with grill lines, about 30 seconds per side.

4. Transfer quail to two roasting pans and put in oven. Roast until cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. Serve quail on top of grits and dolloped with gremolata.

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