My wife Jan has typically been more pro-quail than I have. She has often ordered quail in restaurants, while I have tended not to. She has been the one to suggest that we could buy quail to roast at home, while I haven’t. For me, I think the main problem has to do with the small size of the birds, and thus the need to perform micro-surgery on your quail before actually eating it.
But we’ve now found a new source, and that just may bring us together on the quail question.
On Tuesday afternoon, I had suggested that we drive up to Castelnaud (about 10 kilometres north of Daglan) to the boucherie that’s become our favourite place to buy meat. (Reasons? A clean and pleasant store; good selection of meats and prepared foods; a nice turnover, so you know things are fresh; and pleasant people.) We had no specific purchase in mind; we just wanted a few things for the next couple of lunches. Here’s what the Lacroix boucherie looks like:
They were out of rabbit legs (one of our favourites), but they did have nice-looking pork chops, and we bought two of them for lunch today (Thursday). And the shop also had several quail, all tied up with butcher’s twine and covered with a nice-looking strip of bacon. The butcher told us that we didn’t need to open them up, as he’d already salted and peppered them inside their cavities. So with that, we bought two.
Almost as soon as we got in the car to return home, Jan expressed concern that having just one bird each would be too little for lunch. She mentioned this once or twice on the way home, maybe once or twice that evening, and maybe once or twice on Wednesday, when she was preparing to roast them. But what was done was done, and so she just pressed on. One bird each.
To accompany the quail, she defrosted a couple of slices of polenta that we’d made earlier and frozen; they just needed re-heating. For a vegetable, she sliced several Brussels sprouts finely, and sautéed them with lardons (small strips of bacon). As for the quail, she first browned them in a bit of duck fat, and then roasted them for 25 minutes in a hot oven (200 degrees Celsius, or almost 400 Fahrenheit) with the duck fat poured over them, so that they were nicely browned and cooked through, but not at all dry. I had mine with a few spoons of red currant jelly, which I think goes very well with mild meats like roast chicken. Or quail, come to think of it. And here’s my plate at lunch yesterday:
There was still a bit of knife-work involved in eating the quail, but once on the plate they seemed much larger than the birds we used to buy in Toronto. So one quail each turned out to be just fine. And the taste was just fine too — which no doubt means that quail will be joining our list of favourites.