This pan-fried quail and roast vegetables recipe was a revelation; I’d never cooked quail before last night, but now I’m actually craving these delicious little birds again! Super easy to make, this recipe takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. These tiny birds are surprisingly flavourful, meaty and filling, as long as you eat at least three per person.
I’ve had quail before; back home in Egypt my aunt used to cook quail on occasion, sometimes she’d pan-fry them, other times she’d roast them. Although she’s a good cook, my aunt’s quail would occasionally get too dry or overcooked, but they’d be delicious nonetheless.
The quail is a small bird often raised for food in North Africa and elsewhere around the world. They have a reddish meat and look really tiny before cooking, but they yield a surprising amount of meat compared to their size. Here’s the Wikipedia page about quail, if you’re interested in finding out more about them. Quail eggs are also edible, and delicious. I’ll base a recipe around them sometime and post it here.
As quail does not need too much food or space, it’s better for the environment than larger farmed animals such as cows, which generate a large amount of methane and use up an enormous amount of water and food. Not that I’m quitting beef any time soon; I like beef as much as the next person. However, I’ve shifted from buying regular supermarket beef to more sustainable and humanely raised grass-fed and finished beef. If you can’t afford grass-fed beef, there’s no shame in buying whatever your budget allows. But, if you can afford it, grass-fed and finished beef tastes better, is healthier for you, and is a much better choice.
A note about portions: all of my recipes, unless otherwise specified, are portions suitable for two adults.
- 6 quails
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 more tablespoons for the vegetables
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder + 1 more teaspoon for the vegetables
- Juice of 1 lime
- A pinch of cumin, smoked paprika, black pepper
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 2 large carrots, 20 asparagus spears, 10 Brussel sprouts
- 3 tablespoons balsamic glaze, for drizzling on the vegetables
- 1 tablespoon dark maple syrup
- Salt for the vegetables
- 2 tablespoons canola oil for pan-frying.
- For the yogurt sauce: 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 2 crushed cloves of fresh garlic, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, salt to taste.
- Mix the soy sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, pomegranate molasses, cumin, smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder in a large bowl, marinate the quails in the mixture for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For conversions to and from Celsius, please see the Conversions section of this site.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and brush with olive oil
- Cut the carrots in long strips, halve the Brussels sprouts and trim the bottom parts of the asparagus.
- Arrange the vegetables on the baking sheet then drizzle with balsamic glaze, maple syrup and olive oil. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper on top. Roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are the desired tenderness (20 minutes leaves them with a little crunch)
- Heat the canola oil in a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat.
- Spatchcock or flatten the quails by cutting through the backbone with kitchen scissors or shears. It’s super easy if you own a pair, otherwise you can cut through with a knife but that tends to be trickier.
- Once the oil is hot, sear the birds for 5 minutes on each side. If the pan is too hot, reduce the heat to avoid burning. Once done, serve with the vegetables and the yogurt, mint and garlic sauce. Enjoy!
Have you ever cooked quail before? How did you make it? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments!
For more seared or pan-fried meat recipes, check out:
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