- By Ken Perrotte
Two Mouth-Watering Quail Recipes: Brie-Stuffed & Lacquered Quail - Wow!
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Winter is a favorite time for many to head to shooting preserves and get in a little work with the dog, pointing, flushing and retrieving quail, chukar, pheasant and more. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place with huntable populations of wild pheasant and quail, congratulations. If you live in Virginia, like me, wild coveys of quail are mostly a distant memory, although many habitat projects under the Bobwhite Initiative are beginning to help.
One of the best things about quail is eating them. Without doubt, they are my favorite gamebird for the table. Luckily, I’ve had friends willing to share some of their best recipes and preparation techniques. Here are two from West Virginia and Louisiana.
One of my favorite places to eat and have outdoors fun was in Lansing, West Virginia, rafting and fishing the New River with Adventures on the Gorge.
Susan Jones was a chef at Smokey’s on the Gorge (now Smokey’s Steakhouse) there and she had a quail dish beyond compare. Her father was a bird hunter who brought home a lot of quail and ducks for the family. In designing her entree, Jones said, “I like quail. I like brie – thought I’d see how they paired.”
This recipe debuted on Mother’s Day 2008 at a special feast Smokey’s laid on as part of a breast cancer research fundraising event. The recipe isn’t difficult. Try it. It’ll likely become a favorite.
Brie Stuffed Quail
16 (4-ounce) quail, skin on, rinsed and patted dry
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1-pound Brie cheese
Season each quail inside and out with salt and pepper. Brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stuff cavity under quail skin with 1-ounce brie cheese. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining quail. Roast until cooked through (cut into inner thigh; meat will be slightly pink) about 15 minutes. If you prefer, the quail can be grilled instead of roasted. Be careful to not overcook. Grilling always changes the flavor a little.
Place quail on platter. Drizzle coulis over top of quail and place a small dollop of fresh tarragon pesto on each serving. Garnish plate with leftover tarragon and fresh berries and serve.
Triple Berry Coulis
¼-pound frozen unsweetened blackberries, thawed
¼-pound frozen, unsweetened raspberries, thawed
¼-pound frozen blueberries, thawed
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of semi-dry white white – chenin blanc recommended
6 tablespoons (give or take a couple!) sugar divided
1 teaspoon brandy
Place berries, wine and 4 tablespoons sugar in blender and puree. Pour into medium saucepan. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 8 minutes.
Strain into medium bowl. Discard solids in strainer. Whisk in brandy; sweeten with remaining sugar (Can be made up to 5 days ahead. Cover and chill. Re-whisk before using.
2 large shallots, peeled
2 tablespoons-plus 2/3 cup olive oil
¾ cup (packed) fresh tarragon
2/3 (packed) fresh parsley
2 tablespoons toasted cashews
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place shallots in small baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Cover dish with foil. Bake shallots 30 minutes. Uncover; roast shallots until soft, about 20 minutes longer.
Puree shallots, any oil in dish and 1/3 cup oil in blender. Add 1/3 cup oil and all remaining ingredients; puree. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead; chill.
Pair this quail dish with a dry white, maybe a chenin blanc from France or a chardonnay that’s fermented in stainless steel – Unless you grill the quail, they don’t have that flavor that lends itself to an oaked chardonnay. Get a wine that’s clean and crisp, with firm but not overpowering acids or too much citrus. Some sauvignon blancs will work well.
Covey Rise Lodge Lacquered Quail
Located in Husser, Louisiana, just a short trip from Lake Ponchartrain’s North Shore, Covey Rise Lodge was a superb place to enjoy a bird shoot. Executive Chef Marc Lyons grew up in south Louisiana but trained at the Culinary Institute of America and cooked in several restaurants before heading the creative kitchen at Covey Rise.
Lyons' Lacquered Quail recipe had several members of our bird-hunting party looking up and remarking, “This might be the best quail I’ve ever had.” It is sum-kinda good!
4 quail, boned with skin intact. Brine 12 hours in 5% brine (50 grams salt to 1liter water)
Low salt Louisiana-style seasoning (to taste)
2 tablespoons rendered lard
2 tablespoons minced green onion, white root end
2 tablespoons minced ginger root
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoon minced hot chile pepper
3 tablespoon rendered lard
1-quart satsuma juice (substitute orange juice if needed)
½-cup homemade pepper jelly
¼-cup cane vinegar
¼-cup cane syrup
¼-cup Louisiana creole mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons minced green onion
Sweat first four ingredients in the 3 tablespoons of rendered lard. Add satsuma juice and reduce to 1 cup. Add jelly, cane vinegar and cane syrup and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in creole mustard, rosemary, and green onion. Set this glaze aside to brush quail. Glaze can keep refrigerated one week.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drain and rinse quail from brine and pat completely dry with paper towels. Season the quail with low salt seasoning and then sear breast side down first in a hot iron skillet with the 2 tablespoons of rendered lard. Flip quail after 3 minutes and sear other sides, basting with pan fat until browned all over. Keep quail medium rare to medium. Transfer quail to a baking rack. Use a pastry brush to brush well on all sides with glaze. Place quail in hot oven for 8-10 minutes and serve.
A side dish of seasoned, grilled winter root vegetables, including small potatoes, plus cherry tomatoes and greens goes nicely with this recipe.