When I was at the mystery meat section of my No Frills grocery store the other day, I sorted my way past the sheep’s heads and beef face (wish I was kidding) to find something much more normal, but that I had never cooked. The title of this entry has probably already given you a hint about the little packet of birds that I found that looked like miniscule chickens. I couldn’t pass up the bargain, happily throwing six quails for only $8 into my cart. I’m nothing if not frugal.
This should be a quick entry, because cooking quail is very straightforward. My experience has taught me that birds are birds when you’re cooking, pretty much. If it’s a big one, like a turkey, cook it for a long time. If it’s little, like a quail, cook it for a short time. And in general, stuffing a bird is a good thing, but your mind will never stop thinking about where your hand is while you’re doing it. That’s just the way cooking a bird goes.
Here are a few of my raw quails, just hanging out:
I used this recipe from epicurious.com for my quails, because I’m always partial to goat cheese, rosemary, and bacon, and there wasn’t much more to this than that. Here are the details, and what it looked like:
Bacon-wrapped Quail Stuffed with Goat Cheese
- 6 quail, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 8 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
- 12 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 12 strips thick-cut bacon
Results: If you enjoy the dark meat of a bird, a quail is probably something you would like, because even the breast tastes as though it were the thigh of another bird you may be more familiar with. And it’s not greasy like duck. I was glad that the epicurious website encouraged guests to pick up the birds and eat them with your hands, because that made my dinner more adventurous and also more practical – it would have been hard to get enough meat to fill bellies using a normal knife and fork (estimate 3 per person if your guests are big eaters). I would recommend quails as an economical way to present something different from the every-day.
Sorry, their legs look a little rude in the picture because I didn’t have any twine.
The goat cheese and bacon in this recipe also complimented the birds very well, and I was able to prepare everything very quickly. I did, however, have to extend the suggested cooking time. Follow the same rules of doneness that you would with the dark meat of another bird – put it back in if you pull something back and see anything remotely bloody. Apologies to vegetarians, that even sounds gross to me, but if you cook birds regularly you’ll get the picture immediately.
Rating: Two Yums. Would serve as a nice change for dinner guests who are sick of steak and chicken and aren’t into fish.