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Apr 2, 2007 09:34 PM

PRITHEE: How do I smother these quail?

I enjoyed a Sunday brunch of smothered quail that was delicious. I would love to replicate it. I just bought six frozen quail (I'm a poor shot). Any hounds know how to get there from here?

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  1. I think you've left us a little shy of necessary data. Reading your post literally, if those birds were smothered you wouldn't need to shoot them anyway, would you? A nice big pillow would do the trick...

    Perhaps if you could remember some particulars about the dish - were tomatoes involved? Any vegetables, like onions or mushrooms? Was the dish brown, beige, creamy or what? Any rice or potatoes or pasta? Use whatever powers of description you can muster, and we might be able to assist you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Will Owen

      Thanks so far, Will. It was brown and creamy like lots of thick gravy, and the birds were tender as if stewed. The flavor seemed real as if just from the birds, but I don't see how the little rascals could produce enough pan drippings or otherwise to do all this. And this crowd, (it was a ranch in south Texas) does not eat anything that started in a can. I didn't have a chance to ask the cook.

      1. re: Veggo

        I'm guessing there was a roux involved. Maybe something like this?

        or an etouffee?

    2. This is a South Carolina recipe that my family uses for both quail and doves.

      Salt and pepper the (thawed, in your case) birds well and leave in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Roll the birds in seasoned all purpose flour.
      In a large cast iron skillet, cook 6 slices of bacon. Remove the bacon and set aside, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan. Add to the pan 1 cup vegetable oil. Fry the birds until the outside is golden and crisp. Remove the birds from the pan to a bed of paper towels.

      Pour off all but 2-3 tablespoons of the oils and saute 2 large onions, finely chopped. Add 1 cup of cold water, 2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce, 1 Tablespoon of dry sherry or Maderia, and 1 Tablespoon of that old favorite, Kitchen Bouquet. Let the liquids return to a boil. Stir/scrape the pan to deglaze and suspend all the good stuff off the bottom of the skillet. Return the birds and the cooked bacon, crumbled, to the pan, then cover the pan closely and reduced the heat to a bare simmer. Cook for 2 hours, or until the breast meat is tender.

      2 Replies
        1. re: martmurt

          Sounds a lot like how my father used to cook chicken or rabbit sometimes, only he'd make a roux from the remaining oil before adding seasonings and water (or milk).

        2. I think JGrey and HPLsauce are on point that a roux was part of the equation, which scares me. I'm a Connecticut yankee and we are hardwired with a blind spot that causes our roux's to fail. I'm intimidated. I have allready magneted Martmurt's recipe to my freezer door, with hopeful expectations. Thanks, hounds.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            Roux: Clarify your butter first. Cook slowly, but at least 15 minutes for a blonde roux.

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Yeah, Sam, but I get stung pursuing the brunettes and reds (roux's, of course)

              Gauging the heat in a pan is a "touch" thing; "toca" , that is all feel, I think you would agree.

              1. re: Veggo

                As SF said, slow and steady is the key. Try to make your roux in a stainless steel (i.e. not coated) pan. Stir to ensure even cooking. When the roux has passed the "raw" stage it will begin to give off a nutty/toasty aroma. Be careful, here - the time it takes to turn from blond to brown can be quick, and even if you take it off the flame you still have residual heat that will continue the cooking process.

                If you are creating a brown sauce, be sure to make a nice stock. I save bones when I debone the birds I cook, and when I have enough I either roast them with a little mire poix, then make a rich poultry stock, or cook from raw state for a lighter stock.

                When you are ready to add the liquid to the roux make certain that your liquid, whether stock or broth is hot. Add a little bit at a time to the pot (don't do this is a shallow pan - a saucier is the optimum) and stir to combine. Caution - the roux, being extremely hot fat, might splatter and can cause some nasty burns. So slow is the key. Once you've combined a bit of the liquid and the temperature has stabilized, you can add more liquid in larger quanitities until you acquire the desired consistency.

                BTW, you don't have to use butter. A good oil will do. The key is fat combined with flour.

                Cajun roux is the most challenging. It normally takes me a good 45 minutes to the it to the right colour, but the time and effort are worth it!

              2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                OK, smothered, that is a cajun term, via how you described the dish. A Dark roux is needed. And that ain't a small thing. Means you slowly cook a roux (flour and a fat, like butter/oil etc) until it gets deep brown WITHOUT burning. Check out Paul Prudhomme's writings, he is the BEST at describing roux cooking and cajun, IMHO

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