Contains: Gluten/wheat, eggs. Is: Probably extremely “retro”.
You can use gluten-free bread for the breadcrumbs, if desired.
A 19th-century recipe from California for Codornices a la española (Spanish-style quail) was prepared by stuffing quails with a mixture of mushroom, green onion, parsley, butter, lemon juice and thyme. The birds were brushed with lard, bread crumbs and beaten eggs and finished in the oven. A savory pie could be made with quail, salt pork, eggs and fresh herbs.
This is referenced by El cocinero español by Encarnación Pinedo, 1898, as stated at Wikipedia. I decided to try my hand at the former of the two recipes. I only have ingredients but no quantities to go by, but no problem, I intend to come up with something, preferably delicious.
I doubt the original used Japanese Coturnix quail, but here this is what is available, especially since I am raising them. Likely the Spanish settlers used quail native to the west coast (which I cannot raise here without a permit).
I had fully intended to bread my quail using the ingredients above, but instead used EVERYTHING as stuffing. Well, a little lard/duck fat to coat the skin lightly.
Stuffing: I debated whether to pre-cook the stuffing or not. Finally, I went with cooking the mushrooms in the butter until just softened, then adding in the rest of the stuffing ingredients, as described below. (Quail typically don’t need to bake all that long, and I didn’t want raw mushrooms in this.)
As this recipe came prior to the era of commercially-sold breadcrumbs, I’m suggesting you not use those for the breading or stuffing. I also debated whether to roast these on a rack or directly on the baking pan surface. The cooks a century or so ago may well have done this directly on the pan surface, but thinking this would permit the pan-side of the quail to become decidedly non-crispy, I opted for a rack, instead. (If you do decide to bake/roast these quail directly on a pan surface, use the lard (or duck fat) on the pan surface as well as on the quail bodies… to prevent undo sticking.)
While I do have pork lard here, it hasn’t been rendered down to true lard, yet. Using duck fat instead was not anything of a leap. Duck fat has been used for centuries. (Sourced from Amazon, but I am not giving you the link – I had ordered two jars, despite one of the reviewers stating he’d ordered two jars and one came smashed to smithereens due to poor packaging. I had the same bad luck. And I really couldn’t see how I could ship back the greasy everywhere shards of sharp jar without more repackaging conniptions on my part than this was worth, so I “ate” the potential refund… but do your own research if you really like duck fat…)
Yes, I have you make more stuffing than you need. Always better to have more. You can always bake this extra alongside, or reserve for, say, an omelet additive. Or to add to a bean or other casserole. In this case, I added the still warm stuffing leftovers atop the quail.
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes.
Cook Time: 30 minutes.
Rest Time: 5 minutes.
Serves: 2 quails per one person.
Cuisine: New World cuisine circa 1898.
Coturnix a la Española: Spanish-Style Quail
- 2 quail, preferably Coturnix. (Quail species vary in average size, although they are all still rather small.) De-feathered and eviscerated. Leave the skin on.
- 4 fresh mushrooms, either button, baby bella, or cremini. Or, a combination. Dice these fine.
- 2 stalks scallions/green onions, chopped.
- 1 handful parsley, preferably curly leaf, but flat will do.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 of a lemon, juiced.
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed, and finely chopped.
- bread crumbs – either make your own bread or use a slice or two of bread from an authentic bakery (without that long list of ingredients supermarkets just about always have for theirs). Let it dry and go “stale” overnight at room temperature. Crumble into small pieces for use. PS, if you go for gluten-free, you can still keep these principles in mind.
- Ground pepper and coarse salt, to taste.
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 teaspoon rendered pork lard or duck fat.
Rinse and pat dry your quail. Set aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 450F.
In a skillet, add the butter and chopped mushrooms, Sauté until well-cooked, and most of the water is evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add scallions, parsley, thyme and breadcrumbs. Sauté another 4-5 minutes.
Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and sauté another three. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the egg and mix in, taking the pan off the cooktop.
While still warm, stuff the quail firmly. Set the remainder of the stuffing back on the cooktop (warm or low). Rub or brush the quail with the rendered lard or duck fat.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Plate and serve, topping the quail with the leftover stuffing.
(I do plan to make a closer variant with actual breading on the quail skin in the near future.)
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