I find quail a little bit intimidating because I really don’t know how to eat them. There isn’t a whole lot of meat to begin with and picking out all the flavourful flesh is difficult without getting your hands into the action.
Fresh quail are cooked fast and hot in a 500 F oven for about 20 minutes total. I made them for a slightly unusual Saturday lunch for my family and stuffed them with a little goat cheese mixed with chopped cooked bacon, salt and pepper. You don’t need much; these birds are small.
I made a simple marinade of equal amounts (a couple of tablespoons) olive oil, honey and pomegranate juice mixed with a little chopped garlic and a tablespoon or so of freshly ground cumin to accent the quail’s slight gaminess. (I adapted this marinade from a recipe Mark Bittman published on the New York Times. He used orange juice instead of pomegranate and didn’t stuff the birds.)
I washed and salted 6 quail, rubbed them inside and out with olive oil and salt, marinated them for 20 minutes or so and then reserved the marinade to glaze half way through cooking.
I stuffed the quail with the goat cheese and bacon mixture and arranged them close together in a small oven-proof dish. They baked for 20 minutes or so until they were done but still pink.
Quail is best a little rare like duck. I served it with wild rice and some sauteed mushrooms. We all used our fingers.