Quail eggs are generally those small chocolate-splotched numbers you see clustered in fancy gourmet food emporium cartons with the WTF price tag. We pick them up from the bottom of our aviary, courtesy of our Coturnix (Japanese Quail) family. The small dusty blue guy in front is Napoleon, a widower of the Chinese Painted Quail persuasion; Napoleon likes big butts and fancies Hilary and Lightning Bolt, our two larger girls. The darker gingery beast is Michael Fassbender, our cock (yes, that is the technical term) who fancies himself, mainly, treating us to a surprisingly loud and incredibly annoying whiplash crow-loop during the breeding season.
Over summer Hilary and Lightning Bolt provide us with an average of 12 eggs a week. They're fertile, but these domesticated birds are clueless and cannibalistic parents; Hilary's mother-of-the-year routine consists of standing briefly next to her egg with a far-away look in her eye, then wandering off. A bit like some people, really.
Beautiful they may be; intellectual giants they are not. Hobbies include/are pretty much limited to lying in the sun and quallowing (digging holes in the floor litter) in order to dust bathe. Dust bathing is big with galliformes and the three in the first pic are busily engaged in trying to dig and occupy the same quallow simultaneously, regardless of the laws of physics.
Factory-caging birds of the chicken tribe is especially cruel given their obsessive passion for fossicking and excavation. It's their whole world, really, which is why we ensure these guys can frolic in pine needles and dirt to their hearts' content.
- Quail eggs.
- A small saucepan + water, or if frying them, a small frying pan + butter + rice bran or olive oil.
Drain the cooked eggs and inundate them immediately with cold water, changing it a few times to really chill them down. This makes for easier peeling; it also prevents that nasty grey ring from forming around the yolk.
Give it five minutes then take each egg and roll it gently but firmly on a hard surface, cracking the spotty shell all the way around, then peeling carefully; quail shell is more membranous than that of a chicken egg (and powder-blue inside!) so it's best to leave this to someone with fingernails. Sprinkle with salt/pepper/relish and serve warm.
The steam trapped inside the pan should sweat the finished eggs off the bottom. Be patient and lift them gently with a fish slice. We served these on a cracker with farmhouse brie and Interstellar Relish (recipe coming soon).