Quails, the easy way…

25 Nov

quail gourmet

I don’t know about you, but I love quails! I have been eating them since I was a child, along with other birds. When I say birds, I mean cute little birds. That was long ago when I’d go hunting with my father, before guns became illegal in Australia. Culling of quails, kangaroos and rabbits was encouraged as their population was out of control in southern New South Wales. The occasional stray bird that made it into the hunting sack was also naturally eaten.

As a child I ate almost anything that gave me sensory overload, but now, I stick to domesticated meat. So cute little birds are off the menu, except quails. Funny enough, I still find it very strange that mushrooms threw me off but eating a bird from head to claws didn’t. huh!?

I remember reading a chapter in Medium Raw where Anthony Bourdain likened the expressions of several chefs after they devoured the 16 cm Ortolan Bunting in one bite to “an identical just-fucked look”. As I child I don’t think I could have been that articulate about my dad’s expression as he had his stray finch, but I can certify that he was a happy man eating it.

Quails have delicate lean meat. They can be deep-fried, grilled or roasted. Some like to brine before roasting, others don’t. I fall into the second group. I really don’t see the point of brining. The quail is so small and will remain tender if not overcooked. I tend not to deep fry at home so roasting is my preferred style. I reserve the deep-fried experience for when I eat out at a Vietnamese restaurant where they’re bound to have crispy fried quail on the menu.

I’ve always been curious about how they debone quails at restaurants too so I pulled out my Le Cordon Bleu cooking book for answers. I’d never done that before and was feeling adventurous. I managed to debone one before giving up. I settled for the easy way, leaving the meat attached to the carcass. In hindsight, I wish had deboned all of them! Deboning = more stuffing and easy eating with knife and fork. Not deboning = less stuffing and a lot of handiwork.

I was impressed with the overall result and my guinea pig at work provided the positive feedback to call for a post. It’s not often that you see your six-foot plus colleague, sleeves rolled up tearing into a quail with delight, mumbling the words fee fi fo fum! (ok I made the last part up because you can’t help but think that when eating quails)

Let me know if you try this recipe. I would love to hear about your experience. Don’t like quails? Just use chicken or preferred bird with this to-die-for stuffing.


stuffing ingredients

  • 6 quails
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • handful of mushrooms, chopped finely
  • a few celery sticks, chopped finely
  • 5 tbsp of light olive oil
  • 50g of butter
  • 1 cup of couscous
  • brazil nuts, chopped roughly
  • finely chopped mixed herbs (oregano, marjoram, tarragon, rosemary, sage)
  • salt and pepper to taste


Wash quails, clean their insides, pat dry with paper towel, then debone or leave them whole. Set aside in a roasting dish.

plump quailsdeboned quail

In a heavy based pot, fry the garlic lightly in 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat until aroma fills the air (1-2min). Add, mushrooms, celery and half the herbs then sauté on low heat for about 5-10minutes or until all ingredients are tender.


Meanwhile place couscous in a container or bowl, add enough boiling water to cover, add butter and seal with lid or cling wrap. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Fluff the couscous using a fork, add the contents of the pan and the nuts. Combine well then stuff the quails using a small spoon.

couscous stuffing

Once stuffed, pan fry the quails (2 at a time) on medium heat until lightly golden on most sides then transfer to roasting dish.

frying quails

In a small bowl or cup, combine remaining herb mixture and olive oil (4 tbsp), season well with salt and pepper, then spread all over the quails. Use your hands to make sure they get evenly coated.

basting quails basted quails

Roast in a medium oven at 180C for about 20 minutes.

roasted quail


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: