Sunday, January 10, 2010

The great quail experiment

Today was the day I decided to prepare the quail. You might remember that my husband, dad, and father-in-law went hunting this fall. I, feeling unusually adventurous as a cook, asked for all of the quail and pheasant they shot. I was reading Julie and Julia and felt that is a twenty-something secretary in New York could master French cooking for a Julia Child's cookbook, I could figure out how to cook these birds.

Since nestling the birds next to my Tyson 100% natural chicken nuggets in the freezer (and then completely rearranging my freezer over the holiday break - twice), I looked up recipes on the web and asked around knowing that I could easily lose faith and eventually throw them all out.
I defrosted the quail overnight and then put them in salt water for several hours. We had an unplanned trip to my dad's to pick up hay for the alpacas, so I decided to fillet the breast meat off the quail and soak the small quail nuggets in salt water in the fridge until this evening. Anyone with any experience cooking wild bird suggested the salt water bath/brine to take out the gamey flavor.

This evening, I drained the quail, patted them dry with paper towels, and wrapped them half-slices of thick sliced bacon. A toothpick secured the bacon around the quail. They were placed on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and parchment paper.

I put them in a 400 degree oven and baked them for about 20-25 minutes, until the bacon was brown and starting to crisp.

I set them out on a paper towel to drain and then served them up to an apprehensive husband. During the preparation, he told me liked the ratio of bacon to "dove." I had to remind him that it was QUAIL, not dove and he shot them.

Once on the plate, it was a mini-stand off as we waited to see which of us would take the first bite. I started us off. We both agreed that it tasted just like bacon. So, with perhaps a tenth of the effort, I could have made a plate full of bacon and we would have served the same purpose. Except, I really liked learning about cooking a new food and I felt really brave carving up the birds this morning.
Now, on to the great pheasant experiment!

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