By Tiffany Haugen
A couple months remain to get after quail, and both mountain and California valley quail offer plenty of opportunities. They’re also some of the best eating upland birds around.
Due to their low fat content, game birds can be challenging to cook. Cooking them to proper doneness without drying them out is difficult unless a moist cooking method is used. Oven cooking bags offer a foolproof way to cook any lean cuts of meat and work wonders on grouse and other game birds.
Here’s a quick, flavorful meal our family loves. Add fresh herbs to boost the flavors as desired. Once the bird bones are picked clean, they make a nice soup stock, which we really like this time of year.
6 to 8 quail (or 2 to 3 grouse), dressed
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons, quartered
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and black pepper to taste
Place one-eighth of lemon in each quail cavity along with some of the onion slices and all of the garlic. Place remaining onions and lemons in oven roasting bag. Place the bag into an oven-safe casserole pan. Cover the outside of the birds liberally with salt, pepper and butter. Lay birds atop onions and garlic. Add wine to the bag. Seal bag and make several slits on the top for steam to escape.
Bake in a preheated, 350-degree oven, 45 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 150 to 160 degrees. To brown birds, carefully slice open the bag down the center, tucking into the sides of the pan during the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes. Serve birds with gravy from the bag, as is, or thicken on the stove to make “pan-gravy” style.
Editor’s note: For a signed copy of Scott and Tiffany Haugen’s popular cookbook, Cooking Game Birds, which features 150 bird recipes, send a check for $20 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or order online at scotthaugen.com.