Ask Casey: Questions on Quail

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on October 24, 2011

Ask Casey: Cooking and Kitchen Questions Answered

My darling boyfriend has become addicted to Chopped, and after a challenge with quail and fiddlehead ferns, he is begging for us to make quail. Can i just make it like a chicken?!

Just about! Quails are delectable little dudes, with rosy meat that’s sort of like the most tender chicken thighs you’ve ever sunk your teeth into. Unlike the larger Cornish game hens, which really are nothing more than adolescent domestic chickens, quails are just small enough that it’s totally cool to eat their miniature drumsticks with your fingers, even at the nice restaurants. (And they’re the California state bird—just lookit the plump little body on that guy!)

quail stuffed animal

none for me, thanks, I'm stuffed


Cooking quail is sometimes a challenge because the birds are so teeny tiny, which heightens the risk of overcooking. The ever-knowledgeable Hank Shaw agrees with me that quails should be brined before roasting, since that helps keep them moist during their brief time under the heat. His simple (really!) recipe for brined roast quail is a great introduction—my rule of thumb on brining timing is about an hour per pound, so I’d keep the birds submerged for 4 hours maximum here.


If you love your boyfriend enough for a splurge, take him up to Joe Beef in Montreal and hope the quail in a foie gras reduction with wild mushrooms is on the menu that night (sadly, it’s not in their new cookbook)—or just buy a pair of birds and braise them in a hearty mushroom sauce for a still-special dinner.

In New York City, quality quail are available at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in Chelsea Market, but better supermarkets nationwide like Whole Foods or Wegman’s can order them for you via the butcher department. Ask your butcher to spatchcock or halve each quail for the following recipe:

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Living Large October 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I’ve had quail once, in a restaurant. I bet this is something my readers over at Living Large would be interested in!

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Tracy October 30, 2011 at 11:44 am

That sounds delicious! I’ve never had quail before but I would certainly try it. :-)

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Jane Boursaw October 31, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I’ve never had quail OR cornish hens, but your photo looks yummy.

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Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi November 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I’ve never had quail, but they SOUND yummy!

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KAILAN SMITH March 30, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Trying this tonight… We’ll see how it is, I’ve never made Quail but my husband brought a couple home so of course I get to make it. I really hope its good because I never thought I would ever eat it. :)

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