A newly found friend of mine sent a recipe that brought back memories of my boyhood and of life a long time ago, well, maybe just a while ago, and of life living on our farm. Her recipe was a Spanish dish, huevos al plato, translating to eggs cooked on a plate. But instead of a plate, she prepared quail eggs in tartlets making, as she calls it, huevos a la tartaleta. You can find Miriam’s wonderful recipe at The Winter Guest.
With autumn finally arriving here, I mean the autumn that we know is really just a seasonal dip in temperatures, we move into a less humid period before the cold winds of January and February kick in. The leaves of our autumn, still mostly green, falls to the ground from the oaks in a month or two but if we are lucky, we can spot an occasional hue of red, orange or yellow among the few prized hardwoods and plantings.
Back to the quail story – Often growing up and at this time of year as the rustling of leaves blow downward and the wind twirl around among the thickets, we would go out to the outer most part of the cow pastures, to the edge of hardwoods and into the thick brush for a little hunting. Our dog, Snuffy, would run ahead, picking up beggar’s lice and cockaburrs and occasionally flush out a covey of quail. Armed with shotguns, we fired above the thicket as the birds flew past and occasionally I would hit one. My grandfather was the avid and much better hunter and many afternoons we would head home with enough quail for Sunday’s dinner.
He did the picking and cleaning but it was up to Grandmomma do to the cooking. Granddaddy said you should get them liquored up while cooking them. Or was that us while hunting? He also said be careful when eating wild game – buckshot is not kind to the teeth. Anyway, here are a couple of ways we liked to cook quail while growing up in Greenville AL. Enjoy!
4 whole quail, dressed
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sherry
Clean and wash the birds. Season all sides with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in frying pan and brown evenly the birds on all sides. Add the sherry, cover tightly and simmer on low heat for 1 hour or until tender.
Good served with brasied garlicky asparagus and beans.
Baked Quail with Wine
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
6 to 8 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
Place the quail halves in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper and soy sauce to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator several hours. Remove birds discarding the marinade. In a large skillet, brown the birds in butter on both sides. Place in a large baking dish. Add flour to the skillet with the drippings from the pan. Add more butter if needed and cook until flour is brown stirring continuously. Add the broth and wine and stir to blend. Add more seasonings if needed. Pour gravy over the birds. Cover with foil and bake in a 325 degree F. oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.