|Whole Roasted Quail|
Quail is tasty tasty meat. Gamey like duck, but with a more delicate flavor. If cooked correctly, the meat is still pink inside. Like duck, quail is a red meat bird that is best medium to medium rare. Some of the small bones get so crispy-crunchy that I love munching on them.
There is no elegant way to eat quail. Like eating crab or whole lobster, this is finger food. Finger-lickin' good finger food.
I have always had fried quail seasoned with 5-spice. No batter, just fried like deep-fried turkey. That is the best way to get a crispy skin and crunchy bones without overcooking the meat. However, deep-frying is a lot of clean up work.
I decided to try roasting the little birds using a simple seasoning of salt & pepper to let the true flavor of the quail speak for itself. I did a quick sear to get the skin brown before putting the pan in the oven for the high heat roasting. Since the size of these birds makes it really easy to overcook, high heat and timing is everything. I got out my trusty cast iron frying pan and got it really hot. I pre-heated the oven to 500 degrees F. I was aiming for medium rare, but ended up with medium. Next time, I think I'll butterfly the quail so that I can get a more even sear in a shorter amount of time.
2 quails equals 1 entree serving or 2 starter servings.
Whole Roasted Quail
grapeseed oil (or any high smoke point oil)
1/2 tsp butter
lemon wedges (optional)
Let quails come to room temperature to ensure even cooking. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Rub quail all over with oil. Lightly sprinkle quail with salt and pepper, inside and out. You can always add more salt later, but you can't take it away.
Heat cast iron frying pan over high heat. Pour enough oil into the pan to just cover the surface. Melt butter in pan. Quickly sear the quail on all sides, about 10 seconds or less on each side, starting with the back. Once you get to the breast side, turn off the heat and immediately place the pan in the preheated oven. Roast for 8-10 minutes. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the quail (optional).