The very first time I served my family quail, I knew absolutely nothing about how to properly prepare the tiny birds. A search on the internet and you will discover “brine”; “Don’t brine”; “Bake”; “Broil” and so on. No one seems to agree on the “proper” or “correct” way to handle quail. The one thing all these well-intended advisers had in common is that Quail is touchy – if not properly prepared; you will have dried out meat. The same can be said about Cornish Game Hens. So I’ve decided to approach Quail in the same way I do Game Hens. Naturally, the roasting time will need to be greatly reduced. My biggest advise now that I have prepared a quail or three is this – when you remove the quail from its packaging, try not to laugh. The urge will be there. Poor birds with their skinny little bird legs! Even after being stuffed with herbs and citrus, they remain skinny, funny looking creatures.
Although this marks my second share on the subject of roasting quail, it was actually my first attempt at roasting Quail. The recipe I used was an adaptation of a Cornish hen recipe that was delicious. As luck would have it, the recipe worked very nicely for quail as well. I have since learned that a little common sense and a lot of aromatics will render delicious although be it tiny birds.
If you are feeling a bit adventurous, you might also want to try Quail stuffed with Vegetable Rice. Either recipe would be a delight to serve at a small, intimate New Year’s Eve supper.
Quail with Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, quartered
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
24 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup chicken broth
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Rub quail with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Lightly season quail with salt and pepper. Place 1 lemon wedge and 1 sprig rosemary in cavity of each bird. Arrange in a large, heavy roasting pan, and arrange garlic cloves around birds. Roast in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together wine, chicken broth, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil; pour over birds. Continue roasting about 10 minutes longer, or until birds are golden brown and juices run clear. Baste with pan juices every few minutes.
Transfer birds to a platter, pouring any cavity juices into the roasting pan. Tent birds with aluminum foil to keep warm. Transfer pan juices and garlic cloves to a medium saucepan and boil until liquids reduce to a sauce consistency, about 6 minutes. Cut birds in half lengthwise and arrange on plates. Spoon sauce and garlic around birds. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, and serve.