In this week’s Cooking with Bwog, our resident poultry and pesto preparer Matt Powell shows you how to roast a whole quail. Bwog can personally attest to the fact that this dish tastes dazzling! But, if you think this is just too complicated, just wait. Your time will come—next week: Good Ol’ Fashioned Mac ‘n’ Cheese!

Roasted Quail with Pesto

Yes that is an entire quail

Whole Roasted Quail with Parsley Pesto

Serves 4

Oftentimes, cooking a whole animal can be a frightening and intimidating task, but you will be rewarded by an unparalleled intensity of flavor. A whole chicken is too large for one person, but a package of quail (available Fairway’s poultry section) is exotic yet very well priced (each costs as much as a chicken breast).


  • 8 Quail, cleaned
  • 24 sage leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/3 C Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 C fresh Italian (or flat-leaf) parsley
  • ¼ C bread crumbs
  • 2 Anchovy fillets
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ C olive oil


  1. Clean the quail by running them under cold water and lightly scrubbing, being sure to remove any small feathers that might remain. Place the cleaned birds in a shallow glass baking dish, big enough to hold the birds.
  2. Stuff the quail cavity with 3 sage leaves each and some sliced garlic cloves. (You can also add meats such as prosciutto, diced chorizo, or diced salami in the cavity.) Drizzle the olive oil over the birds, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight to marinate.
  3. The next day, remove the quails from the fridge, allowing the quail to come to room temperature (30 minutes). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a frying pan. Working in batches (of about four quails), brown each side of the bird in the pan. Each side of the bird should take 4 minutes each, and the bird will take on a golden-brown hue. (For our math majors, you would have 2 batches [8 birds divided by 4 birds per batch], multiplied by 2 sides per bird, multiplied by 4 minutes per side, which gives you a grand total of 16 minutes of total browning time!)
  4. Place the lightly browned quail back into the baking dish. Place the quail into the oven and allow the birds to roast for 20-25 minutes, until done.
  5. While the birds are roasting, make your parsley pesto! Combine your sliced shallots with the red wine vinegar and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, combine the shallot-vinegar mixture with the parsley, bread crumbs, anchovy, and salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together. Slowly add in your olive oil until the mixture forms a sauce of sorts.
  6. By now, your quail should be done! Pull it out of the oven and serve with your delicious sauce!