In recent years the noble chicken has been making more backyard appearances, as the interest in well-raised food grows. With websites full of how-to advice, including the inspirational 2,500+ photos of coops at Backyard Chickens, it has never been easier to become an urban farmer and eat fresh eggs for breakfast.
But there is a new bird in town – smaller, quieter and ready for its backyard debut. Meet the quail.
There are good reasons that the quail is gaining popularity in the poultry scene. Quail are small, easy to raise in tight spaces (think high-rise balcony or rooftop coop) and are quiet.
In her book, “The Coturnix Revolution,” Alexandra Douglas makes a convincing case for quail’s superiority over chickens: they are less expensive, take up less space, and convert feed into edible protein more efficiently. Not only is a quail cage quieter than a coop of squawking chickens, it can be small; a square foot is plenty of room for a single quail.
– Mya Frazier, “Quail, The Quieter Back-Yard Egg Option,” The New Yorker
The quail offers meat that is leaner, darker and some would argue, tastier, than chicken meat. And then there are the quail eggs; tiny speckled eggs that are packed with flavor, with more protein and nutrients.
Would you consider raising quail in your yard? Clearly, fowl husbandry is not for everyone… which is why we offer fresh quail and quail eggs year-round.
Quail was one of the first products at D’Artagnan, much requested by the chefs that were enjoying our foie gras and duck. Most of the quail available at the time was sad, frozen stuff that did not meet the quality standards of demanding chefs. When D’Artagnan began offering fresh quail from small farms, more like the product available in France, we made a lot of chefs very happy.
Cooking with Quail
Few game birds are as versatile, simple to cook, and easy to enjoy as quail. These plump, juicy birds are what we call “Game 101,” because they make everyone – from the novice to the prof – look good. Grilled, broiled, or sautéed, they’re almost impossible to ruin.
The medium-dark flesh has a mildly gamey flavor that readily takes to being marinated, stuffed, or highly seasoned. They are small, so allow one quail per person for an hors d’oeuvre, and at least 2 per person for an entrée. Because they are lean, they need to be cooked quickly over high heat and served medium rare to retain their moisture and flavor.
Quail is not as mild and pale as chicken meat, but not as dark and musky as, say, squab. The meat is reddish with a delicate texture, and is quite lean. Whole quail is often wrapped in bacon before roasting to maintain moisture.
Explore our quail recipes and try this juicy little game bird for dinner soon.