Quail Meat and Eggs
Worldwide: There are reports of quail being used for food as far back as 960 AD, where there is a reference to fried quail at a country fair trade. During the eighth and sixteenth centuries in Japan, quail were semi-domesticated as pets and singing birds. However, by the early 1900s, they were beginning to be consumed for meat and eggs in Japan and many other parts of the world, including the United States.
In America: The popularity of quail in American cuisine has risen at a slow but steady pace and only started showing up on menus in the last 40-50 years. This progression started with quail eggs being a common item in sushi restaurants and then making their way onto the menus of fine dining restaurants, as meat entrees and appetizers. More recently, quail meat and eggs can be found in retail locations such as grocery stores and online retailers. Pickled quail eggs can even occasionally be found in convenience stores.
In South Carolina: Several quail farms in South Carolina raise quail for meat and eggs; in fact, the oldest quail farm in the United States is in our state! Quail is nutritious, tasty, and fun to cook. It might take a bit of investigation to find a place to buy it, but it will be well worth the effort.
South Carolina also has quite a few farms that offer quail hunting. You’ll need some shooting skills to procure these quail and a good understanding of how to handle wild game birds. For more information, see HGIC 3515, Safe Handling of Wild Game Birds.
In your kitchen: The following recipe is really good and makes a unique appetizer.
Bacon-Wrapped Quail Breast
Yield: 16 pieces
4 fresh green chili peppers (jalapeño if you like hot) 9 slices of bacon
8 quail breast 1 tsp. sea salt
4 slices of muenster cheese each slice divided into 4 pieces and rolled into a cylinder shape
1 tbsp. minced fresh chili pepper 2 tbsp. minced shallots
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup bourbon (optional) 4 tbsp. maple syrup
4 tbsp. Dijon mustard
6 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 2 tbsp. butter
- Preheat oven to 400 °F.
- Cut 4 chili peppers into thin strips. 4 strips per pepper
- Flatten out quail breasts skin side down, sprinkle with salt, and place a strip of pepper and a piece of cheese in the center of each breast. Roll the breast and wrap each piece with a ½ slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick or skewer.
- Add rolled breast to a flat skillet and cook on medium heat, turning once until each side begins to brown.
- Transfer breasts to a foil-lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until a thermometer in the center of the breast reaches 165 °F.
- Mince 1 slice of bacon and sauté for about 3 minutes or until the bacon is beginning to brown.
- Add garlic, shallots, and minced chili peppers and cook until softened (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add bourbon, vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in butter.
- Remove quail from the oven and cut each breast into two pieces. Serve with sauce.