Quail, is a very distinctive bird, which comes in various sizes. In the store you’ll usually find the smaller coturnix quail. There are bigger quail out there such as the bobwhite and mountain quail; and if you do find them, cooking time will vary. Quail is very common in French cookery where it is noted in such classic dishes as grilled quail ragu. It is also found in Indian, Polish, Portuguese and even in Mexican cooking, such as quail mole (pronounced “moh-ley”) , which includes the famed mole poblano sauce with such ingredients as chili peppers and chocolate. Which set me to thinking, why not add a Puerto Rican twist twist to this delicious fowl? By that I mean using ingredients native to our cooking so that the result is a Caribbean treat. Thus you have the recipe given below.
Since this is a Boricua recipe, I served it with yellow rice. But you can substitute plain steamed white rice, or even serve it with tostones (fried green plantains—check the posting of 9/9/10 for a quicky recipe).
4 whole plucked quails, cut in half
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 2 tablespoons dried
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Wash quails under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a small bowl stir together the oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and allspice.
3. Rub the mixture all over the quails.
4. Place in a covered dish or in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to develop.
5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
6. Place in a cast-iron frying pan making sure the quails do not touch each other (to speed the cooking process).
7. Roast from 10 to 15 minutes. The quicker time will render a tasty, juicy quail, but a little bit pink on the inside. I prefer the longer time span which will give a still succulent quail, but more browned and fully cooked. Note that beyond 15 minutes you, might get a dryer bird.
8. Remove from oven. Let rest for 5 minutes, drizzle with the lemon juice and serve over pilaf or yellow rice.
Yield: 4 servings.