Saturday, November 3, 2012

On the Menu: Hunting Quail

Living in South Texas gives rise to some extraordinary opportunities to prepare wild fowl and game in tantalizing ways. Quail, for instance, is a true delicacy that we particularly enjoy during the hunting season.

Image via The Cook's Atelier.

I love quail in just about every way it is prepared. For me, it's really a toss-up between Bacon-wrapped Grilled Quail (holy moley, it's good), and Pan-Roasted Quail. Just the thought of these succulent little birdies is making me salivate!


12 quail, butterflied
Extra-virgin olive oil
1cup fresh breadcrumbs (or herb stuffing mix)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup lardons (bacon or lard fat from pork belly)
1 cup shallots
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped flat leafed parsley
Fleur de sel and black pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To butterfly the quail, use scissors to cut along each side of the backbone, and then place them on the cutting board and gently press down with the palm of your hand to flatten them.  Pat the quail dry using paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil.  Spread them on a baking sheet, and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown.  Toast the pine nuts, 5 to 7 minutes, just until they begin to turn golden brown.

In a dutch oven, add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the lardons over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until crisp. Turn the heat down and add the shallots, fresh thyme and rosemary.  Sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots are translucent and starting to caramelize.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Working in batches, place the quail, skin side down, in the hot skillet and sear until the skin crisps, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Turn the quail over and put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking, about 3 minutes more.

Reheat the shallots and lardons over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the breadcrumbs, pine nuts and parsley.  Check for seasoning.

Adapted from a recipe by The Cook's Atelier.

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