In the Test Kitchen: Boneless Quail Breasts

Small in Size, Big on Flavor & Convenience

BIG FLAVOR FROM A TINY BIRD

Quail is a popular protein in cuisines around the world — from Polish to Portuguese, Italian to Indian — a true testament to the versatility and adaptability of its flavor.

jade quail cooking

All you have to do is open the pack — everything is portioned and ready to go. If you’re trying to feed 20-30 people, you don’t have to worry about lots of prepping.

- Jade

The smallest farmed bird, quail is distinctively delicious: slightly sweet and very savory, like chicken but with more depth and without the strong game flavor of bigger wild birds like pheasant or partridge.

Big on flavor, boneless quail breasts, each about the size of a standard chicken nugget, are incredibly convenient — especially if you’re cooking for a crowd.

Tastes like Chicken Plus!

Taking Quail to the Kitchen

Though quail may still feel foreign to American home cooks, it’s a staple in European kitchens and is a Marx Foods bestseller!

Our Test Kitchen dynamic duo Liv and Jade set out to get acquainted with this newly popular protein and discover how easy and accessible boneless quail breasts truly are.

“I thought of recipes that might work with subbing the quail breasts for chicken thighs,” says Jade.

Starting with beloved recipes from her childhood, Jade set out to create adult upgrades to kid-friendly chicken classics. “Things like BBQ chicken and norimaki chicken. That was my favorite recipe to eat when I was growing up. It’s like chicken nuggets, but better!”

iberico pork bossam
iberico pork bossam

Using quail made elegant recipes like Konbumaki even easier for Jade. “Konbumaki is a New Year’s dish in Japan. It’s visually stunning, but not too much work — especially if you have family members helping out!” It can take several hours to braise when using traditional ingredients like chicken thighs or pork, but “quail breasts are much more delicate, so they’re going to braise for less time.” This is a great dish to bring friends and family together in the kitchen, but using quail helps to cut down on cooking time — leaving more time for eating and enjoying! Get the Quail Konbumaki Recipe

iberico pork secreto

“These are actually really easy to work with,” says Liv. She tapped into her classic culinary skills and time spent in restaurant kitchens, drawing inspiration from a radicchio salad she used to make full of autumnal flavors and ingredients. “Those flavors — the sweet and bitter, not too heavy, just go really well with quail.”

She paired radicchio with seasonal delicata squash, another easy-to-work-with ingredient that’s big on flavor and visual appeal. “You can eat the skins, so you don’t have to peel them. The flavor and the texture are really good.” Fennel adds a sweetly earthy anise flavor while hazelnuts add crunch. Get Liv’s Salad Recipe

iberico pork pluma romesco sauce
iberico pork secreto

THE RESULTS

From a simple sear in a cast iron skillet to steamed, sauced and broiled, Liv & Jade discovered boneless quail breasts are delightfully impressive: easy to work with, fun and full of flavor.

jade prep-work

COOKING TIPS:

While working in the Test Kitchen, we gathered these nuggets of quail-cooking advice:

  • • Pat the quail breasts dry for the crispiest skin.
  • • Quail cooks quickly! They’re done within 3 ½ minutes.
  • • Use an instant-read meat thermometer & remove the breasts from the skillet or broiler when they reach 150° F & let rest for a few minutes.
  • • Don’t crowd the pan! 10 breasts in a 12-inch skillet is a good standard.

Each breast comes with a tiny tenderloin. You can pull or cut these off before cooking and set aside to use in other dishes (they’d be great quickly sautéed and tossed in fried rice).

“The tenders will pull away from the breasts and will dry out more – so just pull them off & nibble them yourself if you’re going to be serving this recipe to guests.”
– Liv


TO MARINADE OR NOT?

iberico pork pluma end loins

In true Test Kitchen fashion, both Jade and Liv tried marinades with some of their recipes.

For Jade’s BBQ Quail Breast Skewers, the quick marinade made seasoning the breasts easy. The small size and quick cooking means there’s not much time for basting and the char adds delicious flavor and a crispy texture. (If Jade saved the sauce for the end, the breasts would soften and lose that crispy crunch!)

Liv also experimented with a quick marinade but, in the end, discovered that they’re best simply seasoned with salt and pepper and seared in a hot skillet.

“The flavor of the marinade was nice, but the texture of the quail breasts was better without,” she says. “You want the skin on those little guys to get crispy!”

If you plan to play with a marinade, Liv recommends only marinating for 15-20 minutes — and make sure to blot the breasts before searing so the skin crisps up.


HOW DOES QUAIL COMPARE

QUAIL BREASTS Vs. CHICKEN BREASTS & THIGHS

QUAIL BREASTSCHICKEN BREASTCHICKEN THIGH
FlavorA++AA
Quantity10 breasts per pack1 chicken breast = 1 pack of quail breasts3 chicken thighs = 1 pack of quail breasts
Prep Time1 minute
Virtually no prep or mess to clean up! After thawing, simply remove the breasts from the bag, pat dry & season.
2-5+ minutes
Prep time can vary, depending on the time it takes cut up the breasts & clean up.
2-6+ minutes
Prep time can vary, depending on if you're de-boning skin-on thighs, plus the time it takes to cut them up & clean up.
Cook time3 minutes, 30 seconds (seared in a skillet & broiled).7-10 minutes, depending on thickness & cooking technique.6-7 minutes, depending on thickness & cooking technique.
 purchase  

EASY TO PREPARE

    1. 1. Cook Using Same Techniques As Chicken Breasts or Thighs!
      • a. Sear, broil or grill.
    2. 2. Serve Whole, on Skewers or Sliced.

Ready to give your next party platter an easy upgrade? A canvas for creativity, boneless quail breasts are a distinctively delicious and elegant enhancement for any dish.