Brining your Quail, Chukar, and Pheasant
- Quail and other game birds, like more popular poultry, is prone to becoming tough and dry if you overcook it. And, because quail is smaller than chicken, it's easier to overcook. Brining -- the process of soaking meat in a saltwater solution -- provides a good deal of protection against the undesirable effects of overcooking. Also, like marinating, brining gives you an opportunity to impart extra flavor into the meat. A proper brine should help you turn out juicy, delicious quail, no matter how you're cooking it.
- Salt to water ratio opinions can vary widely, but a good rule of averages and one that is easy to remember is one cup of salt to one gallon of water. Other things can be added to the brine. If you would like a sweeter brine you can add a half cup of sugar to a gallon of liquid/water. You can also add any herbs or spices to help flavor your Texas upland birds.
A few brining tips
- If you are using anything other than salt, bring your brine to a quick boil for one minute to let the herbs and spices marry with the water. Before putting your meat into the brine make sure the water has returned to at least room temperature. A return to room temperature is quicker if you only boil half a gallon with your additives, then add the remaining half using ice water.
- Adding coriander and peppercorns are a good option for all upland game.
- You can experiment with other liquids besides water. Start with trying 4 cups water, 6 cups whole milk, and 6 cups apple juice to make your one gallon of brine.
- Many people will tell you to brine overnight (12 hours or so). Since quail is a smaller bird brining as little as thirty minutes can make a difference and often overnight will leave your birds too salty for many tastes. If you have the time try brining you upland game for 1-2 hours.
- After you are done brining it is always good to let you birds “rest” for half an hour before cooking to let the solution even out throughout the meat.
The Prairie's End Hunt Club http://texasbirdhunt.com/