Now that it is October, fall is clearly in the air. The cool weather, changing leaves, football games all signal the season. October is also the opening of hunting season in most of the country and this month I want to introduce many of you a few varieties of meats beyond the big three – beef, pork and chicken – and ways to prepare them should your hunter buddy offer up some of his prize (or you can order online).
Quail can be considered Game Meat 101 – both from a culinary perspective and a hunting perspective. I do want to point out that you do not have to be a hunter to enjoy quail. It is pretty easy to find already dressed either whole or semi-boneless (carcass removed) and is very available in many better grocery stores. Note: all quail found at retail is farm-raised.
From a culinary standpoint, there is really not much that is easier to prepare and nearly impossible to ruin with a little bit of attention. The flesh is medium-dark – think somewhere between and chicken breast and a thigh – and has a very mild game flavor that takes really well to marinades and rubs. Quail is a very lean bird and like any lean meat needs to be cooked quickly over a fairly high heat.
I have seen a lot of recipes that say to cook quail upwards of 10 minutes per side. Just as a point of reference, a good-sized boneless chicken breast can be cooked in under 10 minutes. These are tiny little birds, really. I found that 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on the heat of your fire to more than ample to cook them to a nice medium. Any longer and they will dry out; remember they are very lean.
I have marinated these quail in a very simple lemon and herb vinaigrette that enhances, but doesn’t mask the flavor of the quail. You can serve quail in many of the same ways you would other fowl. I made a little extra vinaigrette and served them over a fall salad that included some roasted beets, butternut squash and peptitas (roasted pumpkin seeds). Serve one quail as an appetizer and at least two as an entree.
You may be thinking that you would like to try these deliciously delicate little birds but have no idea where to get them. Never fear my friends! I have found a great resource for when I need game and exotic meats (they even had the alligator meat that I needed for a photo shoot!). Check out my friends at Fossil Farms online or give them a call. They will be more than happy to get you what you need and ship it directly to your door.
Note: this is not a sponsored post. I paid full retail, but the folks a Fossil Farms are so helpful that it is worth the mention.
- 8 semi-boneless quail (rib cage removed)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for grilling
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for grilling
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Cut quail in half and place in a shallow baking dish. Whisk together the Dijon, garlic, herbs, and lemon juice 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Slowly drizzle and whisk in the oil until incorporated. Pour vinaigrette over the quail and turn them to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 6 hours.
- Set up grill for direct heat cooking over medium-high heat. Brush and oil the grates before cooking.
- Remove quail from marinade and scrape off any excess. Smooth out the skin and season with salt and pepper. Lay on grill skin-side down and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!