Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Watch the Birdie

Everybody likes chicken, don’t they?  I mean, if they didn’t, why would almost everything else, when we don’t really want to know what to compare its taste to, taste “like chicken?”

Ever had frog’s legs? They taste like chicken.  What about ‘gator? Tastes like chicken.  How about rabbit? Well, silly, of course - it tastes like chicken.

Funny thing is, most other birds that we eat don’t taste anything at all like chicken. Seriously, does a duck taste like chicken? No way.  What about a goose or a squab or a pheasant or a partridge?  You gotta be kidding me.  Which brings me to the dinner I prepared the other night, after rummaging through the freezer the day before, figuring with the hurricane coming it might be a good time to use up some of the stuff I’ve had frozen for a while.

What I found in my bottom freezer drawer, all nice and cute in their package, were these little guys…

Setting aside the fact that they are practically pornographic in that pose, those birdies, for those of you who don’t know, are quail. Four of them weigh literally just over a pound, meaning two each would be a nice serving for Significant Eater and me – provided we had some comforting sides to go along.

I didn’t want to do anything fancy/schmancy to the birds, so I figured I’d just roast them. I started, an hour before cooking, by salting them heavily, which works like a brine. While the birdies were brining, I roasted some carrots, potatoes and peppers. After an hour, I dried the birds off and seared them for a few minutes in a hot, cast iron frying pan then stuck them in a hot oven (425° F) till they were done – in this case, about 10 minutes.

Served as is, with those roasted vegetables and you know what?  They didn’t taste at all like chicken; but they were delicious…

Of course, since quail are such tiny birds, I figured a little dessert might be a nice way to finish the meal.  I happened to have a few good peaches on hand so I cut them in half, took the pits out, topped them with some brown sugar and chopped walnuts and roasted them for 30 minutes.  Served on a plate with a scoop of smoked ricotta alongside, a perfect ending to a very tasty pre-hurricane dinner… 


  1. I LOVE little birdies! And quail may be my favorite. Bravo, Mitch!

  2. @Jeff - your wife inspires my bird loving!

  3. I've never had quail. That situation might have to change.
    Love the peach idea. Peaches have been great out here this summer. Quite unusual for California.

  4. @Robynn - Peaches super easy. Slice in half, sprinkle stuff on top, roast at 350F about 30 min.

  5. Two words: guinea fowl. Not a little birdie, but one fine, fine bird. And the bones make a bangin' stock. :-)

  6. If I can find it, yes! I've been able to try partridge and squab and quail so far! Come to think of it, maybe I have had guinea fowl.