Once or twice a year, I’ll order a case of semi-boneless quail from Texas Quail. Quail is delicious, easy and quick to cook, organic, sustainable and all the things I want food to be. It is so versatile- you can fry it, smoke it, grill it, stuff it, bake it, etc. And, if it can arrive on my doorstep with just a couple mouse clicks – all the better.
A couple of days ago, I took a package of 4 quail out of my freezer to defrost. I had been reading recipes, and had one sort of made up in my head. I would make a delicious mushroom risotto, and stuff the quail with it and some local goat cheese, then bake it in the oven. Fast forward to this evening, and I have a million things to do, the quail needs to be cooked, and I have no time to devote to it. But, I also need it out of my fridge because I need the room and I need something for dinner.
So, I decided to wing it, as it were. I put some Carolina Gold Rice on to cook, and chopped up a handful of Baby Bella Mushrooms from Kitchen’s Pride, which I got at the farmer’s market. Into the pan with the mushrooms, I put a couple tablespoons of butter, some crushed garlic, and a generous helping of fresh thyme, the leaves from 4 or 5 sprigs.
Once the mushrooms were cooked down, I folded half of them into some Water Oak Chèvre, which I get at Boggy Creek Farm.
Using my hands in the messiest way possible, I stuffed a couple tablespoons of the cheese, mushroom mixture into each quail. I didn’t bother to tie their little legs together – rushing, rushing after all. After a generous seasoning of sea salt and pepper, I popped them into the oven at 350.
The remaining buttery, garlicky mushrooms, went into the rice. At that point, I realized that my quick plan had no vegetable component. I had some fresh spinach in the fridge, so I chopped up a a handful and put it into the still hot rice and stirred it up, figuring that it would wilt a bit and take on some of the thyme and butter.
After about 40 minutes, I switched the oven to broil, to brown the quail a little. They looked done, but a little lacking in color. Once they browned up, I took them out, and served one for my dinner over the mushroom, spinach rice. I garnish everything, because it makes me happy, so I snipped up some garden parsley for the whole plate. It was a quick and easy dinner – not the elegant meal I had envisioned a couple days ago, but simple, tasty and I got a lot done while it was cooking!
When packaging the leftovers for later, I tossed in some chopped pecans, which I though would add some texture to the whole meal. It will be a nice surprise when I reheat it!