Quail are readily available here and increasingly so elsewhere I am hearing.
There’s a light gaminess about them, making a change from chicken and guinea fowl.
There are as many ways to cook a quail as skin a cat–what have I said!!
You can marinade them or stuff them with countless variations of flavors. These mostly take some forethought and time. This way is simpler and quicker.
I do have to snip off their heads here, which used to give me pause. In London I know they are sold headless.
To spatchcock or spattlecock or butterfly is to remove the backbone of the bird in order to open it up and flattened it out–as you might do a book. This allows the bird to cook more quickly and evenly under the grill. Spatchcocking is an easy and oddly satisfying technique. All you need is a pair of poultry shears or strong scissors and the nerve to try it!
3 or 4 quail–spatchcocked
- Hold the quail breast down and cut along each side of the backbone and lift it out.
- press apart the resulting gap to flatten the bird.
- Snip away any bits of fat and gristle still attached to the carcass.
- rinse the birds thoroughly and pat dry.
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic–sliced
salt and pepper
- Gently sauté the garlic in the oil until it starts to change color.
- Lift it out with a slotted spoon onto some kitchen paper [paper toweling].
- Do the same with the sage leaves.
- Let the oil cool down.
- One by one, lift the quail by the legs and pass both sides through the oil coating them lightly.
- Let any surplus oil drip back into the pan before repeating the process.
- Place them on a shallow oven tray and slide them under the grill.
- Season well each side.
- Cook them about seven minutes each side–depending on their girth. A little crispiness won’t go amiss.
- Sprinkle with garlic bits, sage (if you’ve used it–I didn’t in this case) and serve with a quartered lemon.
- Serve with the green sauce below (optional!)–a simplified winter version (when many herbs are hard to come by) of the green sauce in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.
Quick green sauce
small bunch of parsley
1 garlic clove–thinly sliced
1 teaspoon capers–chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
- Make a pile of the first five ingredients.
- Chop through them until you have a dry version of the sauce
- Put this reduced pile in a bowl and add the lemon juice and stir in the mustard.
- Add the olive oil mixing everything thoroughly.