Quail has been pecking its way onto plates at the hottest restaurants in the city. From Chef Matt Lambert’s New Zealand style, The Musket Room, to superstar Marc Forgione's Southeast Asian restaurant, Khe-Yo, it seems that chicken is well... done.
As a part of the pheasant family, this bird has a rather strong, gamey taste, so it doesn't need to be smothered with bold flavors. At Corvo Bianco on the Upper West Side, celebrity Chef Elizabeth Falkner cooks the quail as she remembers it, growing up eating what her grandfather hunted.
To compliment the quail’s natural taste she pairs it with farro, pecans, pickled cucumbers, and cherries. As for the flavor choice? She says, “I have great memories of that flavor, and love it with the toasted farro. I add toasted pecans to enhance the nuttiness and add grapes with pickled cucumber to give the dish some refreshing texture and juiciness.”
There are several ways to cook this tiny bird- preferred methods include roasting, frying and grilling. At hotspot Alder, Chef Wylie Dufresne, known for his eccentric cooking style and out-of-the-box dishes, chooses to fry the quail and give it an Indian- inspired twist using banana curry, Chinese broccoli, and pickled turmeric.
So why this bird? Self- professed poultry lover Chef Ignacio Mattos of Estela explains that he has a “big obsession with birds, I love chicken, but quail are very special. They are quite expensive, but worth every penny.” His main goal is to highlight the flavor of the quail by aging. This technique develops a foie gras like taste. His method of choice is to broil the quail so that the skin cooks evenly and crispy. The garnishes that he uses change frequently as the seasons turn. However, he says, “the garnish always stays very simple.”
So, go on and flock to one of these hot-to-trot restaurants, if you can get a table, for a taste of the trendy quail.