Something about eating quail always makes me feel like a giant. I like picking up one of the tiny little drumsticks and thinking, "Fee, fi, fo fum..." in my head.
Another great thing about quail? They're delicious. They may look like miniature chickens or a cornish game hen, but the flavor present in quail is unlike any other. It's equivalent to comparing the flavor of duck to chicken. Worlds apart.
Plus, they're incredibly impressive to serve at a dinner party and done right, just as easy to prepare.
The best way to buy quail is already deboned. This means that the only bones left in the little guy are the drumsticks and the wings. They're simple (and civilized) to eat and require no navigating around tiny little bones.
These guys are stuffed with a simple mushroom filling and roasted quickly at a high temperature. Delicate, impressive, and surprisingly simple. What more could one ask for?
Mushroom Stuffed Quail
1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz assorted mushrooms, chopped
pinch kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cognac
2 oz hard cheese, grated (grana padano, pecorino romano, parmigiana reggiano, etc.)
¼ cup breadcrumbs
4 quail, deboned
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400ºF
In a heavy bottomed skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Cook the shallot and garlic until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chopped mushrooms and allow to caramelize. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the cognac, carefully (if cooking on a gas stove remove the pan from the stove before adding cognac or briefly shut off the flame to avoid flare ups). Cook until cognac has evaporated and mushrooms are completely softened, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until comfortable to the touch. Mix in grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Set aside
Rinse the quail thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Season inside and out with kosher salt and pepper. Stuff the cavities with the mushroom filling. Truss quail, if desired. Brush quail with melted butter and bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 18-25 minutes or until thermometer inserted between leg and thigh registers 145-150F. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serve.
*Note: One of the tricky things about roasting quail is that they dry out very easily because they’re so small. Stuffing prevents this, as does cooking at a high temperature for a shorter amount of time. I had great success with roasting the quail inside one of those oven bags usually reserved for Thanksgiving Day turkeys, but the skin didn’t develop the rich golden color we all desire on our poultry. That being said, if you’re more concerned about getting flavorful, moist quail than getting a rich golden brown skin, I’d highly recommend the bag. You can achieve a bit of the browning by brushing the quail with butter again after removing from the oven bag and popping them under the broiler for a few minutes.
This is a nutritional estimation, regard it as such.
1 serving = 2 quail
7 g carbohydrates
25 g fat
44 g protein