I’m often asked about the perks of owning a gun dog. The answers are legion, but one of the best is that I hunt more, which means more wild-bird dinners. During the season, and long after, our menu ranges from dove to ducks, and most recently quail.
As I’ve said before, I’m no chef, but my wonderful wife is a maestro in the kitchen. So I turned these birds over to her. Jenny found a recipe in a new cookbook by Chris and Idie Hastings of the Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Chris, whom I’ve met briefly, is a bird hunter and a dog guy—the good chef prefers setters. He’s also one hell of a cook. For our meal, Jenny handled the prep and the sides (in this case, roasted winter veggies and couscous) and I manned the grill. Here’s how we did up the birds:
6 6-ounce semi-boneless whole quail*
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
Clip and discard the last two segments of both wing tips on the quail. Rinse the quail under cold running water and pat dry. Place the quail in a large glass bowl with the olive oil, garlic, thyme, sage, and parsley. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hour or up to overnight.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (350-400 degrees) Remove quail from the refrigerator and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Remove the quail from the marinade and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place quail on the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cook through (like most small birds, you do NOT want to overcook). Remove the quail from the grill and set aside to keep warm until ready to serve.
* We cooked our birds bone-in, which Hastings says makes the meat even more flavorful. Add a minute or two to cook time. As you may have surmised, the dinner was excellent. In fact, I’ll take quail over any game bird.
As always, I’m curious how you cook your quail. Let’s hear the best you have.