Monday, January 23, 2012

Quail feast

My favorite meat is roast quail.   Here in Nice you can find excellent quail at the Galerie Lafayette at Cap 3000.  These that we had last week are called Quail Imperiale and cost about 5 euros each (the high end for quail).  But as we had a friend staying it was a double excuse for splashing out on the best.

My favorite story of quail dishes I have eaten was about birds that we ate the day after hiking in the Parc de Mercantour.  The night before the hike I carefully packed a lunch for Monsieur and I so we could get an early start.  I had the lunches all wrapped in the "frigo" and I popped them into our back-packs in the morning.

 When we got to the summit of our Mountain after 3 hours or more of climbing,  I was ravenous and scrambled in my sack for the alors,  I found instead, 4 quail in the white butchers wrapping that I had brought with me instead of my sandwiches.  Of course, I trekked home with those birds and shared lunch with the others on the hill that day.

The following lunch, I cooked up those  "cailles sportifs" and they were even a bit tastier than usual. ...or was that my imagination.  Maybe the "randonné" was their "resting" the aging of game birds  before cooking which is practiced in Britain.    My husband's favorite treat is "hung" grouse hunted only in Britain where it feeds on heather.  He is also a big fan of partridge and duck that is hunted and then allowed to rest a few days before being plucked and eaten.

My favorite recipe for quail is from the Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater, one of my favorite cookery books.   But this is one of the few recipes of that book that I have changed to suit my taste.  Mr Slater has us make up a marinade of soy, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, grainy mustard, garlic, salt,  and ground nut oil........all well and good but it seems too acid for my taste so I add some brown sugar as well.

 I bathe the individual quail in this sauce and separate them in a large pyrex dish and then I baste them half way through the 25 minutes of roasting.  I also make up four times as much sauce as Nigel recommends which means 2 lemons and 4 Tablespoons of brown sugar for 6 quail.

  Mr. Slater would approve.   He is all for personalizing a recipe.    You see in my photo we are using paper napkins.   I find it impossible not to abandon knife and fork with such a succulent feast.

 Post Script:   By the way, according to the new speak, I am a flex-itarian.  I will eat fish, chicken and game and occasionally meat.  I seek always to find animals to eat that were raised and killed humanely.  ( It's often reflected in the price!)

I have made some conscious choices about where I draw my line in the sand and my choices and argument are as complex as the human psyche itself (and cyberspace is not really a good venue for a sensitive argument in any case).  

I like this excerpt from the autobiography of Thomas Jefferson my first voyage from Boston...our people set about catching cod, and hauled up a great many. Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution of not eating animal food... But I had formerly been a great lover of fish, and, when this came hot out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanc'd some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, 'If you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you.' So I din'd upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet. So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.

Yes, well said , Thomas.  Can I interest you in some quail?  


  1. Looks yummy. where did you find asperge and mange-tout? BB

  2. The little Spar on Rue Halevy near Place Grimaldi has a great vegetable section. Profitez.