Roast Quail with Balsamic Reduction

Simple roast quail, roasted quickly on high heat and served with a balsamic vinegar reduction.

Quail, properly cooked, still have a blush of pink inside. They are delicate-tasting birds and need this delicate treatment to truly shine. If you are aiming for a temperature, 150°F in either the leg or breast is ideal; quail are so small the whole bird will likely be the same temperature throughout.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 4 whole quail
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup inexpensive balsamic vinegar

Method

1 If you are working with frozen quail, either defrost overnight in the refrigerator, or place the package in a large bowl and cover with a couple inches of room temperature water for 20 minutes.

2 Pre-heat the oven to 450-500°F. Truss the quail with kitchen string. Cut off a length of string about 18 inches long. Cross the middle of the string over the quail's legs and bring the string around to the front of the bird, making sure it holds the wings close to the bird's flanks. Tie the string tightly around the neck. (Chow.com has an excellent video on how to truss a chicken, and quail are the same, only smaller.) Allow the quail to come to room temperature for at least 20 minutes.

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3 Pat the quail dry with paper towels. Coat the quail with the olive oil and salt well. When the oven is hot, arrange the quail, breast side up, in a small roasting pan. Use pieces of the celery stick to keep the birds upright while they roast. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove the birds from the pan and set aside on a plate to rest for 10 minutes, loosely tented with foil.

4 As the quail are resting, make the sauce by putting the roasting pan on a burner set to medium heat. Discard the celery sticks. Add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan by scraping all the browned bits off the bottom. Bring this to a simmer and pour into a small pot or sauté pan. Add the balsamic vinegar, increase the heat to high and boil down to a syrup. Halfway through the boil, pour any accumulated juice from the resting quail into the sauce. When the sauce thickens and will coat the back of a spoon, it's ready.

Serve the quail with the sauce drizzled over everything. Serve with a side of polenta, or rice pilaf.

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Comments

  1. agnespterry

    I’m sorry, but with an introduction like that for your recipe I can’t help but think of comedian Tom Lehrer’s “I Hold Your Hand in Mine.” That’s way off topic, I know, and I apologize. He’s probably better known for his “Elements” song or “Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park” which were both on Dr. Demento cds at various points. You can probably youtube him if you’re curious.

    I’ve had Cornish hens before, but I rather thought the effort put into eating them wasn’t worth it in comparison to say, a full-sized turkey or chicken. More meat, less fuss, and just as tasty. Nice pictures, though!

  2. Kiran

    Elegant dinner! Can I sub quails for cornish hen instead? Quails are hard to get here on my neck of woods :)

    Cornish game hens are much, much bigger than quail. More like small chickens. They will take longer to cook, and you probably want to cook them at a lower temperature. I would online for another recipe. ~Elise

  3. Gail

    Yum! I’ve never cooked quail before. When Chevy’s first opened in Sonoma (early to mid 90’s maybe? and long ago closed in Sonoma) they had quail on the menu. I tried it then. I think they took it off the menu after pepsi(?) bought it. It was so good. I guess I will have to try to cook it for myself. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Peter

    I love these little birds…very flavourful meat (and lean). I like the simplicity of your sauce…KISS principle!

  5. Renee

    I’ve never made quail before, but this will be very easy. I imagine eating them is somewhat like eating cornish hens only using your fingers even more! It always makes me feel like I’m in the middle ages.

  6. mantha

    Did you say this was a romantic meal? Then by all means use your fingers to eat the quail while gazing into your partner’s eyes. For a quick tutorial, see the eating scene from “Tom Jones.”

  7. Jen

    ooh goody. i’ll be butchering quail soon so it’s nice to have a recipe to look forward to using!

  8. Adam

    My wife and I just had roasted quail at a small quaint restaurant in Virginia so we are inspired to use this small bird for a recipe. I think we just found one that we would like to experiment with!

  9. W.H.Hamilton

    This sounds so good ,I think I will try it on phesant to see if it will work on a little bigger bird.