Hey there and welcome to another installment of The Meal Plan. Boy, October sure did greet us with a bang, didn’t it? We’ve gone from such a warm and beautiful summer to BOOM, autumn in a hurry. But don’t let the bad weather get you down; there’s still lots of festive meals that can be cooked up while you’re keeping warm indoors, such as today’s golden bird, the quail.

The name quail is actually a term used to describe a large number of medium-sized game birds. They generally resemble a smaller, less robust partridge, though some species like the California quail have the trademark overhanging feather that is often associated with quails. There are two families of quail; the Old World Quail, who are native to Europe, and the New World Quail, native to North America, and the group that we are most familiar with.

When it comes to nutrients, quail is very similar to duck in many ways, particularly with their high fat content located in the skin of the animal. They also contain a high amount of protein; approximately 19 grams in a 3-ounce serving of quail meat, which is close to 35{a908f3cfa73a8de8bf6f2b96e240bb7c9d3f5bad987c2ee76ba0db26a64817a2} of your daily protein intake. Skinless quail also has approximately 5{a908f3cfa73a8de8bf6f2b96e240bb7c9d3f5bad987c2ee76ba0db26a64817a2} of your daily fat intake. Quail also contain high amounts of the mineral Phosphorus, which is used to improve kidney functions, cell growth, and strengthening your bones. Finally, quail contains high amounts of Vitamin C, which your body utilizes to form bones, ligaments, blood vessels, and tendons.

With all these benefits, it’s a shame that most people completely skip over quail. It is one of my favourite dishes to preparebecause it has one of the most unique flavours among poultry you’ll find on the market, yet it’s ignored for one reason or another, be it too much fat, too little meat, or just through a lack of exposure. But if you do decide to try out quail this holiday season, you won’t be disappointed by the versatility that this bird offers, as can be seen in this recipe from epicurious.com.

107015

Spice Rubbed Quail

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spice-rubbed-quail-107015

Ingredients

  • 8 semi-boneless quail
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • Scant ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • Scant ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons mild molasses
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  • Wash quail and pat dry. Stir together salt, black pepper, cayenne, and allspice and rub all over quail.
  • Arrange quail in 1 layer in a baking pan and marinate, covered and chilled, at least 1 hour.
  • Simmer broth, lime juice, molasses, and scallion in a small heavy saucepan, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in butter until incorporated. Season sauce with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  • Arrange oven rack so that top of quail (on top of broiler pan) will be 2 inches from heat, then preheat broiler.
  • Lightly oil broiler pan and heat under broiler until hot. Brush quail (on both sides) with olive oil and broil 2 inches from heat, turning once, until just cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes total.
  • Serve quail drizzled with sauce.
  • Makes 4 servings.

Since we’ve been verring on the adventurous side of fowl, I recommend that you try some of the following in the coming months:

Capon – this castrated rooster is plenty flavourful as it is bred and raised to be fattened up for eating.  It has a tasty buttery flavour to the meat and is well worth the effort, though it is more expensive than chicken because of the difficult process of casteration and raising.  You will have to go to a butcher or specialty meat shop to find it, but rest assured, it is something that you should do at least once, simply to experience.

Goose – A dish that is still popular in Chinese, Eurpean and Middle Eastern cultures, the goose hasn’t really taken off here in North America.  It has a distinct flavour that has made it a favourite Christmas dish in Europe, particularly in Germany an is often an alternative to turkey for holiday meals.

Pheasant – This game fowl has often been regarded as a nobleman’s feast because of it’s rich heritage among aristrocratic gentlemen hunters of old.  This lean gamey meat makes for a tasty autumn treat.  It has made a resurgence, so to speak, in the UK as an alternative to red meat.  It’s versatile and flavourful to boot and can be cooked in a variety of different methods that I’m sure that you’ll never grow tired.

Partridge – No, we are not talking about Keith or Danny from the 70s TV show the Partirdge Family, this meat is very lean and dark, like pheasant but not as delicate.  This is the most difficult game fowl to find and should certainly be on your cooking bucket list for that reason alone.  It has a high concentration of vitamins and nutrients, which would make it a treat for the health concsious as well.

One other fowl that doesn’t need any introduction at this time of year would be the turkey – but we’ll all be working wonders with it over the next few weeks (stay tuned)