It might or might not be what you’re thinking. Our neighborhood is lousy with California valley quail, which – in Idaho for obvious reasons – they refer to as valley quail. This winter we’ve been lucky enough to be entertained by coveys numbering in the several dozens. They sweep across our yard like a dusty gray wave and scurry through the beds picking up grit and seeds. Angus stays rapt at the big window in the front, taking it all in while wishing he were out there with them. Then a car will come up the street and the quail will demonstrate their instinct for panic and bust across the street in front of the looming vehicle, half of them flying and the other, probably younger half, running.
One day I went out to get the mail and saw one of the younger quail get hit by a passing car. After colliding with the bumper it bounced to the gutter, quivered for a moment, and then lay still. I thought, “Why not?”
Making sure none of my neighbors saw me, I picked it up and hanged it in the cold shed with the other birds I was aging. A few days later, I was pleased while cleaning the quail to see it was clean, and put it in the pot with the rest of the birds. While much smaller than the Huns and chukar I’m used to cooking, the meat was delicious. I’ll never look at road kill the same way again.
Here’s the recipe (thanks to Dan Herrig for this, which I’ve modified slightly and renamed):
Greek Game Bird Roadkill
- 4 chukars cut in pieces or boned (any game bird will do, road-killed or not)
- ¼ C olive oil
- 1 C dry white wine
- ½ C apple cider vinegar
- ½ C brown sugar
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 4 scallions (or 8 green onions) finely chopped
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp cracked black pepper
- ¾ C Kalamata olives halved
- 1-1/2 C diced prunes
Preheat oven to 350. Wash and dry game bird pieces. Place them in the bottom of a clay cooker or Dutch oven. Add all ingredients except one cup of the prunes. Stir, cover and place in the oven for about 1-½ hours. Check after an hour to make sure it’s not already done (cooking time will vary depending on how much meat you have in the pot). About 15 minutes before completion, add the remaining cup of plums. Stir and return to the oven. Serve with brown rice and crusty bread!