Should you have luck on the shoot, the only difference in cooking the birds is cleaning them and, of course, removing the shot. But with the wild quail population declining for lack of suitable habitat, Bacon points to Manchester Farms, a premier producer only hours away in Dalzell, whose quail can be found frozen in most supermarkets. “Just thaw them for 24 hours, and you’re good to go,” he says.
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups Carolina Gold rice
4 cups boiling water
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1/2 lb. Mepkin Abbey oyster mushrooms, cleaned with a mushroom brush
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tsp. unsalted butter
1 thyme sprig
1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
6 semi-boneless quail (Manchester
Farms brand recommended)
Swiss chard leaves, for garnish
Roasted cherry tomatoes
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and gently cook for three minutes. Add the rice, mix well, and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional four minutes. Add boiling water and salt. Stir well and cover. Cook over low heat until the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and spoon on a baking sheet to cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for three minutes on each side until browned and crisp. Add the stock, scrape the bottom of the pan to capture any brown bits, and cook until the liquid is almost gone. Swirl in butter and thyme. Remove from heat and let cool. Chop into small dice.
Combine the rice, mushrooms, and cranberries. Add salt and pepper as desired. Stuff the quail. Tie them off between the body and legs with butcher’s twine to hold the stuffing and season with salt and pepper.
Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in two batches, add the quail and sear until browned on both sides, four to five minutes each side. Place the skillet in the oven and roast quail for about six minutes, or until heated through.
Remove the quail from the oven and let rest for five minutes. Remove string. Place on a platter lined with the chard leaves and roasted tomatoes, and serve.