Pickled Quail is really one of my very favorite recipes. Oh sure, I probably say that about most of my recipes, but this is one of my favorite-ist. I’m defying the laws of the English language to tell you how much I like this one.
It does take some time to prepare, although the techniques are simple enough: pan frying quail, and marinating vegetables. Its the marinating time that takes so long. But, they are most definitely worth the wait.
And as much as I hate dieting, this recipe fits right in. Vaguely healthy, but definitely decadent.
A Perfect Appetizer at the Ranch
At the ranch, we have a strong tradition of hunting in our family. Lately, there has been an amazing resurgence of quail. Even my ridiculous rescue dog Joe has flushed a few coveys. He is completely baffled by the situation whenever the birds bolt from the brush. Whatever hunting instinct exists in his mixed up DNA runs out after the first 5 seconds of pursuit. For him, the quail are just a snack that didn’t pan out, so he usually quits the chase and searches out sniffs in the other direction.
Wild quail will have a different texture than farm raised quail. Unfortunately, all store bought quail is packed in some sort of saline, which pre-marinades the birds. The texture is more tender, but less gamey, and slightly artificial. The trade off is a consistent texture, flavor, and no lead pellets. But wild or store bought quail both work well in this recipe. I would marinade the quail for an extra day if they are wild quail, though.
With the platter that I show here, I used Japanese Shishito peppers, which were marvelously green, and slightly bitter, a great foil for the rich olive oil. And my guests loved the pearl onions. Peeling them is a bit of a chore, but very much worth your time.Print
Pickled Quail Recipe
- Prep Time: 30 min
- Cook Time: 20 min
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 12 Servings 1x
- Category: Appetizer
- Cuisine: Continental
8 quail, cut into quarters
2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil
2 lbs (1kg) of mixed pearl onions (red, white boiler, cippolini)
1 lb (500gr) carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 lb (500gr) fresh asparagus or green beans, trimmed
1 lb (500gr) mushrooms, well washed. (I prefer the crimini variety)
1 lb zucchini (500gr) washed and cut into sticks
1 ½ cups olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig oregano
salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup (175 ml) red wine vinegar
Heat 2 tbsp. (30ml) of olive oil in a 10” (25cm) skillet. Brown the quail in the skillet until they are golden, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the quail from the skillet, and cool.
Fill a medium saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Add the unpeeled pearl onions, and boil for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions form the boiling water, and set aside to cool. Cut the root end of the onion off, then peel by slitting the skin of the onion with the tip of a knife. After boiling the onions, discard the water, and refill the saucepan with clean water.
Once the water has come to a boil, add the carrot sticks, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the carrots from the water using a slotted spoon. The asparagus, mushrooms and zucchini must be blanched in the same fashion, but only for 1 minute. Remove the vegetables from the boiling water, and cool in a shallow pan. Place the cooled quail, onions and vegetables in a large zipper seal bag.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients, and add the dressing to the bag. Seal the bag, and store for 24 hours in your refrigerator. Turn the bag over occasionally so that the dressing evenly coats all the quail and vegetables. When ready to serve, remove the quail and vegetables from the bag using a slotted spoon. Arrange the onions and vegetables on a large platter, and place the pickled quail in the middle.
Appetizers for 12 Tip: You may want to change the water when blanching your vegetables, in order to preserve each vegetable’s vivid color. I prefer to marinate foods in zipper seal bags. It is easier to turn the foods in the dressing, so that they absorb the flavors evenly.
If you want a hotter pickled quail, add a 7 oz can of sliced pickled jalapeños to the marinating bag.