Monday, July 5, 2010

A Cure for the Common Quail

Hopefully you’ve been playing along at home, and now have a nice batch of cured lemons to start experimenting with. If not, you can catch-up in no time – just check out this video recipe for Thomas Keller’s cured lemons posted last week.

I ended up using these lovely lemons in a super-simple, but really gorgeous roast quail recipe. This would make a great special occ
asion first course, and really shows off the unique flavor of the preserved lemons. The recipe is stark, because I really wanted to taste what the lemons could do.

I usually don't tell you how to eat, but here I'm going to. You want to make sure each bite of quail has at least a tiny piece of the preserved lemon mashed on to it.

You can gauge your own personal tolerance for how much of the condiment to use, but it totally makes the bite. The way just a little bit draws out the flavors of the meat is a lot of fun.

I know many of you will ask, so I'll tell you right up front, you can find quail. Higher-end stores like Whole Foods will carry them frozen, and any decent poultry purveyor can find some for you. If all else fails, you can simply order them online.

If you can’t find quail, you can easily adjust this for game hens, or even chicken breasts (using the slice of cured lemon under the skin). By the way, I was thrilled with how my lemons turned out, especially in this recipe, and would love to hear what your experiences are. Enjoy!

Bonus Coverage:
If you're as big a Thomas Keller fan as I am, check out this great post by YumSugar about the chef's demo, "The World's Best Preserves," from the 2010 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. That's where this whole cured lemons obsession started for me.

4 whole quail
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
pinch cayenne, optional
1 cup chicken broth
1 slice cured lemon, minced fine


Anonymous said...

Alas, that looks tasty, but something about eating an animal that small doesn't sit right with me (stupid guilt, I know). I'll probably just adapt this recipe to use with a whole chicken. Thanks.

Greg said...

The quails look kinda like freakishly small humans with overdeveloped torsos, it's creeping me out !

Don Madrid said...

Brilliant Chef John!

You make it look so easy.
The true sign of genius.

blogagog said...

Never watch Food Wishes videos at midnight. He makes you want to cook (and eat!).

Veronica said...

Greg: At first I thought you were weird. Then I saw the video. Ok, humans allright.

But tempting. Never tasted quail, but with these lemons, I would not say no to them!

Maria said...

Do you think Cornish hens would be fine too?

Chef John said...

Yes, mentioned those in the post. They would be great for this.

Camilla said...

Can we use this recipe for chicken?

Steve said...


Looks great and I'm anxious to try this and maybe a game hen variant.

Regarding pinkness, are there any salmonella issues with quail?

Chef John said...

I'm no expert, but I think we'd hear about a lot of sick people in fancy restaurants if it was a big problem

Wendy B. said...

Hey Chef John, thanks for the great recipe. We just did quail at school last week (I am in culinary school this summer. Yay, me!) but I didn't really like the preparation we did. I did take freakishly great pleasure in de-boning the wee bird, though. Does that make me strange....?

Chef John said...

Yes ;-)

Saila Sorno said...

how long can the lemons be preserved?
are they kept in water or in their own juice?

Chef John said...

In their own juice, will keep for months

Dave said...

I couldn't find quails, but I have cornish hens. Are the cooking time different?

Chef John said...

yes, hens are much larger. Can't give you an exact time though. Use standard internal temp guidelines about 175

jags52982 said...

I made this last night with cornish hens. I put them in the oven for about forty minutes. The only thing I would recommend is to hold off on putting the lemons on the breast when you have about 15 minutes to go. It was excellent!

Dave said...

Oh boy!!! This recipe was such a success, my family has been talking about it for three days now!! A gazillion thanks

Anonymous said...

Chef John
is quail something i would be able to Grill pretty well? i was thinking about taking some and making bbq in that Calabrian Chicken marinade you did? how long and how hot do i want my grill for something delicate as quail? thanks. getting my ideas For Niners opening day!! hehe