Sunday, March 8, 2009


I went to the grocery store today and bought:  A Quail.  I was wrong about the partridge, they don't have those.  In addition to Quail they also have Pigeon.  Was I ready to eat the flying rat? No.  I asked my uncle for some culinary aid in preparing these tiny birds.  After he mentioned Mirepoix I had to remind him that I have the culinary training of a 9 year old.  So, he went step by step and this was the result.

Step 1:  Take the birds out of their packaging. DONE!
Step 2:  Boil a bunch of salt in water.  He gave me numbers, I couldn't find measure cups... oh well.
Step 3:  Chill the water and dunk the birds.  Let them sit for a period of time.  I did cover them so they would stay under water and left them for two hours.  This was because I got hungry and decided to cook.  This step is called a Brine and is meant to add moisture and flavor.
Step 4: Prep the birds for cooking.  I decided to do one in our "oven" and one in a pan.  The Oven bird got a big lemon shoved up its butt.  Both also got a bit of oil, salt and pepper.
Step 5: Oven bird goes into the toaster for about 35-40 minutes on 180 degrees (Celsius... yea, again just guessing).  I did this until the "juices ran clear." The pan bird was a little tougher.  I put a bunch of butter in a pan over medium heat.  After melting I let it foam up a bit then seared both sides of the quail.  I left it in the pan on medium and basted it with a spoon.  Basically I just spooned the excess liquid back on top to help crisp the skin.  I'm pretty sure I #1: burned the butter and #2 undercooked the pan quail.  
Step 6:  Rest.  The birds keep cooking for a little while post direct heat.  While I was doing all this I prepared some garlicky green beans.

Result?  Moderate success.  Like I said, I undercooked the pan bird and I think the burned butter didn't help the overall flavor.  The skin was crispy and nice.  The bird was pretty fun to eat but I actually did eat two as they were pretty skinny.  I enjoyed the oven bird a bit more.  I think putting the lemon in the cavity wasn't nearly enough, I should have put some of the juices over top of the bird before cooking as well as continuously basting the bird with the leaking lemon juice.  The left over "gravy" at the bottom of the oven dish was fantastic and I've become a true believer in the strength of flavor acidity adds to food.  I may cook these guys again if I've got a full Saturday or Sunday and go figure out what the whole mirepoix thing is, the price was just about right and if I can prepare a starch I'd only really need a single bird.  Oh, it was 3.25 Euro for the package so they're priced pretty well. 


  1. did you notice you placed the two of them facing each other on the cutting board. what makes it sad is their little legs dangling... i don't know if i could eat them due to the cuteness factor.

  2. To Mary - as for the "cuteness factor" - the rule is to never give your food a name (like naming the pet calf "daisy"), because you are bound to eat it...
    To Scott -
    anyway, great conclusion about acidity. it is a major player in flavor when cooking. that is a huge revelation.
    the lemon could have benefited from the mirepoix and some garlic.
    browned butter is good ("beurre noisette"), however, black butter ("beurre noir") is not... keep basting - you're on the right track.
    remember - low heat is good...