Have you ever eaten Quail before? Chances are if you aren’t a foodie or food critic of sorts then this bird probably hasn’t been on the menu. I’d never tasted quail before coming to Portugal. Well, there’s another reason to travel: you get to try new food!
I’m sure you are probably wondering, “What does quail taste like?” And I’m going to tell you that quail tastes like chicken. Disappointed? Don’t be. It tastes like chicken but it doesn’t taste exactly like chicken, and that’s the whole point. Quail is, how do I say, “gamey-er” than chicken. The meat is a bit chewier because quails get more exercise than chickens that spend all day sitting around in a koop, unless you buy freerange. To make quail Portuguese style you just add some traditional seasonings. And perhaps play some Fado in the background.
2 Quail, chopped in half.
Minced garlic to taste.
Fleur de Sel (or sea salt) and black pepper to taste.
Vegetable oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan)
1 tsbp of butter
1/2 cup of white wine.
Have your butcher chop the quails in half along the spine, or do it yourself. Season the quail with Fleur de Sel from Portugal or regular old sea salt. Add freshly cracked black pepper. Add as much minced garlic as you like. I like my quail really garlicky, but it’s up to you. Finally, set aside some Louro (bayleaf) and get your pan ready.
Since you are going to be cooking your quail at high temperature use vegetable oil that will withstand high temperatures like canola oil. Olive oil burns at the high temperature you need so don’t use it. Turn the temperature up to high, and once the oil gets hot, add the quail skin side down.
Be careful of the splashing hot oil! Cook for 4 minutes, turning the heat down to medium-high after two minutes. Once time is up use some tongs to flip over the quail. Add some butter (about a tbsp) and a 1/2 cup of white wine. Cover it with another pan to form a bit of a “wine steamer” as I like to call it and cook for another 4-5 minutes, turning the heat down to medium.
If you do it right the skin will be nice and crispy brown and the meat inside cooked through but still tender and moist. Quail can be a bit tricky to pull off, but it’s always better to err on the side of overcooking than undercooking when you are dealing with poultry. Poke the quail with a toothpick and see if the juices run clear. If so, then it should be ready. If not, give it another minute or two on medium heat.
After that slap it on a plate, let it rest for a minute, and serve. By now, your house should smell like slightly charred garlic and quail fat, which let me tell you, smells amazing. This is a good dish to accompany my Portuguese Style Shrimp recipe posted earlier.
Well I hope that this post will inspire you to try some quail, and perhaps you’ll even be so inspired as to come and visit Lisbon one day. I hope so! Thanks again for visiting my blog and as always,
Lisboa Espera Por Ti