from The Whole Beast by Fergus Henderson
The quail unfortunately falls into a kind of bird purgatory; it is not a game bird, though some describe it as such, but is now a thoroughly farmed bird, so not glamorous enough to warrant the “hands on” battling that people feel justified to exert on grouse and partridge, and is denied from joining the chicken’s gang, as it is seen to be too fiddly to eat. Then finally, to kick the quail while it’s down, people say it has no flavor. – Fergus Henderson
Put all this behind you and let me put forward the case for the joys of a bowl of thoroughly roasted quails.
Roasted Quail (serves 4)
10 quails (as there are always those who end up eating 3)
freshly ground black pepper
Season the quails inside and out very thoroughly, being especially heavy on the salt. In a hot frying pan, with a small splash of olive oil, brown the quails all over. When you are satisfied with their color place them on a lightly oiled roasting pan, and place in a hot oven for 20 minutes or so.
Despite the quail’s fragile reputation it is robust when it comes to cooking, not having the drying out potential of the partridge or the angst of getting that perfect moment of blush in a grouse breast. The quail wants plenty of cooking, to the point that its legs can be easily pulled from the ribcage, and the flesh sucked off the leg bone. Serve the quail salty and well done in a bowl in the middle of the table and encourage some hands-on eating.
Serve with a bowl of lentils or simply a watercress salad.