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Mushroom stuffed quail with dijon sauce

There are few outdoor experiences quite like quail hunting. Quail hunting season opens in early winter and goes through February in Georgia. Thanks to the amazing work by such organizations like Quail Unlimited, you can find all sorts of places to hunt birds. Like most outdoor sporting activities, the real fun for me is in observing the pageantry that takes place in nature. I’m getting a little too poetic here. Bottom line, if you have never watched a good group of bird dogs work, put that on your bucket list. I’ve been on some pretty amazing hunts in my day. In addition, you will be hard pressed to find a greater adrenaline rush than the one that comes when you jump a covey of wild quail. You have about 1 second to aim and fire if you’re lucky.

4 quail
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup (125 g) assorted mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, porcini, etc.), chopped
1 small shallot, minced
½ cup (75 g) cauliflower, grated
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 tablespoons pecans, chopped
~ salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika or Creole seasoning
1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock or white wine
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  1. Debone the quail.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).
  3. To make the stuffing, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then the mushrooms and shallots, stirring often until mushrooms are softened.
  4. Stir in the cauliflower, thyme, pecans and salt and pepper. Cook until cauliflower is slightly softened.
  5. With the quail skin side down, place some of the stuffing mixture on the meat, folding the quail around the stuffing.
  6. Place in a small baking dish breast side up. Repeat with remaining quail, and sprinkle the paprika over each bird.
  7. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F (175°C) and finish for 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through (being careful not to overcook quail).
  8. Remove quail from pan. While pan is still hot, add in chicken stock (or wine), stirring to dig up any of the browned bits in the pan. Pour this into a small sauce pan set over medium-low heat. Whisk mustard into liquid mixture until well combined. Serve quail with sauce poured over.

Tips & Tricks—While you can certainly leave all the quail bones intact, I find that it presents a little bit nicer and is a ton easier to eat if the rib cage, wish bone and breast cartilage are removed.