Ham and quail eggs tapas from The Book of Tapas.

Ham and egg tapa from The Book of Tapas

One of the objectives of this whole cook-through-my-cookbook-bookcase experiment was to reconnect with cookbooks I used to use all of the time but have since…well, not abandoned, per se, but haven’t referenced as much as I’d like to. The Book of Tapas is one where I have a handful of recipes that have entered our regular rotation—I’m particularly fond of the lemon-garlic chicken wings—but a few Fridays ago I decided to finally try a recipe I sort of half-assed back in New York and then never attempted to make again: the ham and quail’s egg tapa.

It’s not a complicated tapa to make, since all you’re doing is cutting rounds of bread and ham and hard-boiling some eggs, but until recently quail’s eggs were not something readily available. I definitely tried making this recipe back in New York with regular sized eggs, and while it was fine, it wasn’t great. Recently Harris Teeter started carrying quail’s eggs as well as duck eggs, so when I was thinking of things to make I realized I had the chance to finally make this the proper way and to assemble the perfect bite with all the right proportions.

Unfortunately the Teet doesn’t carry serrano ham so I made do with prosciutto; the only thing to note here is that if you go that route, the ham is softer and therefore a little more difficult to cut. I also cheated a bit and artfully arranged the scraps from each slice since Michael insisted that he didn’t need “fussy” servings, and honestly if you trim them up a little they look just as good anyway. Using really good butter also elevates this bite—I’m personally a big fan of Kerrygold, but any European or European-style butter will work nicely here. (And no, no one paid me to say that.)

Paired with some gambas al ajillo from the Barcelona Wine Bar cookbook, it made for a lovely, low-key tapas Friday, something we haven’t had in ages.

Ham and quail’s egg tapa

adapted from The Book of Tapas

Makes approximately 12 rounds

  • Half a loaf of semolina bread, cut into 2-inch rounds (12 in total)
  • 5 oz serrano ham or prosciutto, cut into 2-inch rounds (12 in total)
  • A tablespoon of unsalted butter, at room temperature (use a good European butter if possible, like Kerrygold)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 6 quail’s eggs
  • Kosher salt

Boil the eggs: In a small saucepan, bring salted water to a boil and carefully lower the eggs into the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, remove, and run cold water over them (use a spider to hold them all together) until cool enough to peel. Slice each egg in half longitudinally.

To assemble the tapas, spread a little of the butter on each of the bread rounds and sprinkle with a little parsley. Carefully lay the prosciutto on top and arrange on a serving platter. Place each egg half on a round, and then sprinkle them all with more parsley and serve immediately.

  1. Are quail eggs easier to work with when boiled? Tried cracking them open for a recipe and they were a beyotch. Is there a secret?

    • Running them under cool water seemed to do the trick for me, but when trying to do it for fried eggs it’s just being as careful as possible. It is really annoying.

    • I think they will make the cut the next time I want to do a tapas spread.

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