Don't say I didn't warn you....
***************** Edited to add: Before I begin, there are MANY other ways to process quail...this is My way that I am happy to share with you. If you'd rather do it another way go for it! This is basically just for newbies who don't know where to begin I've been asked a few times already how i process and all i've been able to do is explain in words which doesn't help much. When I processed quail i already had experience processing chickens, squirrels, and whitetailed deer...oh and rabbits...and I must say that quail are the easiest! Also the quanity PER person for a meal will vary depending on if you're planing JUSt to eat quail, or if you'll have side dishes or mix it inwith a casserol or something simliar. ***************
I'm posting it because people ask every now and then how to process and that I know of I cannot really find any picture discriptions online....and all most of us have been able to offer to these newbies to processing quail here at BYC have only been able to explain in explainations instead of pictures.....I decided to finnally give in and process a hen I really adored...I have no use for her because she had a bum leg (i got her like that but didnt know until i got her....) it may have been splayleg though im not sure. Its been months and she hasnt gotten any better and just lays around most of the time...I was keeping her alive because I adored her but that's no life for her...and I was concerned that the males trying to mate her may hurt her even worse as just handling her made her limp more. I decided to give and in and process her and take pictures to help others.
Items I need in order to process the way I do....large cutting board, sink, 2 plastic bags, pair of sharp scissors, ziplock baggie if putting in freezer oh and the birds.
I first put down the cutting board in my kitchen or bathroom counter top....which is directly beside my sink. The plastic bags at my feet and the scissors at hand.
Then you get your bird, and make sure you have a good grip around the birds wings so it cannot flap....just don't hold too hard that they cannot breathe. Decide what hard surface you're willing to wrap the back of their head on.....*picture wrapping a frozen dish on the side of your counter to loosen up the ice...that's about the amount of force you'll need* I wrap them because I perfer them STUNNED before I snip off their head....this is MY personal preference...you can just snip the head off but some protest...
She was not hit here so no worries, this is just me showing the position I have her for the proceedure....just one quick motion with the back of the birds head hitting the hard surface is all you'll need. You'll feel the bird stiffen up quick and shudder....IMMEDIATLY get the bird over the sink, grab your scissors and CUT the head off.....as soon as you do blood will start coming out and the birds nerves will react accordingly (hold on to those wings)....drain the bird out...running cool water helps make the blood go down some...but you'll still need to wipe it out aftewards atleast i always do lol.
****HOLD BIRDS NECK DOWN INTO THE SINK.....believe me...you'll be happy you did.....thanks to MRS AK who reminded me to put this tip in there to make this MORE CLEAR.....unless you want a sprinkler effect please heed our warning****
Draining takes only seconds....coturnix aren't full of much blood.
Then while still holding the bird over the sink....kneel down and pick up one of the bags...put it in the sink...dont worry if the sinks sitll bloody or wet because you'll be putting that bag inside the other bag after you're all done.
HOld the bird over the bag in the sink and start plucking....
I pluck by grabbing the feathers on the lower tummy first, and pull upwards towards the birds neck...this is the FIRST bird i've plucked that the skin didnt immediatly pull off...which i assume is just because it's an older bird. Younger birds (6-8 weeks old) the skin comes RIGHT Off with the feathers unless you're really careful. I've learned that 12 weeks is the ultimate time to cull coturnix...they are at their biggest then.
^^I hold the bird during this but for this picture i had to put the bird down, hubby was sad I was processing her....so he went and played his xbox360 lol. He says im mean...but he sure does enjoy coturnix quail meat
Once you've plucked the majority of the feathers off the BODY, I grab a wing...and snip it off....theres no point in all that work of plucking the feathers out of the wing when you can't even eat any real meat on the wing...
Then get the legs...hold them at the thigh area, and cut below the knee
Now heres the not too pleasant part.....*least not for me haha*....I cut at the red lines...which are RIGHT below thier ribcage...you'll need to move down thier thigh to feel this area.
I don't have a picture of the second step because I would of had to of washed my hands off during it and dried them just to take a picture...but it's kind of self explainatory...stick your fingers in the holes..and PULL DOWN.....not too too hard or you'll rip the bird apart.....just enough to pull entriles out....if you're good enough you'll be able to pull the vent right out as well...if not I just cut it off after im done....then I grab up in the ribcage and pull out the heart...and if you're lucky....and grab the stomach organ thing...if you pull slowly and steadily enough you WILL pull the crop out as well (today was the first time I managed that and it was pretty cool no crop mess and her crop was FULL of food)! The lungs....and then I snip off the rest of the neck and make sure the cavity is empty, then i wrinse it out with cold water. I find it impossible for ME to keep the skin on and plus im not a big fan of fowl skin....so off it goes (which was still very easy on this old of a quail....the back area is a little challenging but it's kind of like pealing a bandaid off of skin).
Heres the end product:
For size comparison...next to a q-tip
Empty cavity great for stuffing with something yummy for cooking!!!
I normally don't freeze them,we normally eat them right after I process them, but only culling one theres no point...she'll wait until I cull more. I just put her in a snack ziplock baggie if she's freezer burned my animals will enjoy her. She won't go to waste.
Tips: if you dont want a crop mess....don't feed them the night before....or don't feed them in the morning and process them at night.
You'll need atleast ATLEAST 5 birds per person if eating them whole...if shreading them into some other dish 5 birds may make a whole casserol....can others please add their methods of processing AND their recipes?
Edited by monarc23 - 2/5/09 at 1:27pm