cooking melbourne

Discovering Melbourne's Artisan Foods and Produce

Quail – the boned and the beautiful


I enjoy eating quail; those little packages of tender, dark meat that are not quite chicken and not quite a game bird, somewhere in between, much like the middle child of the poultry family. I often want to serve them to dinner guests, split, marinated in olive oil, lemon and garlic and quickly barbecued but am reluctant because few people enjoy dealing with the little bones. To give the little birds a chance to grace the dinner table in style and be enjoyed by all I decided to bone the little buggers and stuff them with wild mushrooms and chestnuts as a last farewell to winter. YouTube was my learning tool and I found an excellent de-boning class with Jacques Pepin. By the time you are onto your second or third quail you’ll find it quite a routine operation. But if it looks too difficult or icky for you then ask your friendly butcher if they will do it for you but don’t ask them on busy Saturday morning, ask ahead, so they can do it in a quiet time on a Friday. If you haven’t secreted away some wild mushrooms in your freezer then I suggest using a more flavoursome commercial variety, such as chestnut or shiitaki. I am sure everyone will enjoy these boned and beautiful little roasts, so much so that they will probably suck on the tiny drumsticks remaining.

For 4-6

  • 6 quail, deboned
  • 3 leeks, sliced
  • olive oil
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4-6 wild mushrooms (slippery jacks or pines), finely diced
  • handful of chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
  • 4-6 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • 2 thick slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 tbs butter, room temperature
  • black pepper

De-bone the quail as shown in the youtube instructions.  To make the stufffing: saute the leeks in olive oil with the anchovies until softened but not browned. Do this by covering the frypan with a lid. Add the garlic, herbs and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the chopped chestnuts. Put the bread in a food processor and process to crumbs. Add half the mushroom mix and the butter and process to combine. Remove the stuffing from the food processor and mix through the remaining stuffing left in the frypan. This will give the stuffing a little more texture. Season with black pepper. There should be enough saltiness from the anchovies, so no need to add salt. Stuff the boned quail, securing each end with string or toothpicks. Rub the outside with olive oil and roast the birds at 180ºC for approximately 35 minutes, turning the birds over half way through cooking. Serve the birds cut in half lengthwise.

To Buy Quail:

Donati’s Fine Meat, 402 Lygon Street, Carlton

Cannings Free Range Butchers

Peter Bouchier


Prahran and Queen Victoria Markets





cooking melbourne • September 10, 2017

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