This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Plentiful in almost every American market in the winter season, and the standard dish is broiled quail on toast. This habit or custom in regard to the cooking, although, of course, spontaneous in its origin, is strictly in accord with the verdict of cultivated epicures upon the merits of the quail.
"There are in Paris, in the cuisines both of the best restaurants and of private houses, three approved ways of cooking quails, namely, as cailles a la macedoine, cailles au riz, and roasted. Of these various ways I greatly prefer the Jatter, as I think, and you will doubtless agree with me, that the quail, and especially the vine-quail, can stand very well on its .own merits of flavor alone. The quail is at its best when roasted without the addition of a hundred-and-one kickshaws, however savory and intrinsically meritorious these kickshaws may be".
"The best recipe for roasting quails, and serving them, is one copied from the Cooks' School (Ecole des Cuisiniers), which I accordingly reproduce with a strong recommendation. Scorch your quails, clean and restore livers, spit them through the thighs with a little spit, with a small slice of crustless bread between each bird; secure the roast with a skewer passed through each end of the spit; butter the quails with a brush; roast before a sharp fire, hasting them carefully for 10 minutes, which is sufficient time to allow for the roasting; salt them and take them off the spit, serving on a hot dish with the bastings for sauce poured over them, and surrounded with slices of lemon".
"Egypt is the great source of supply, but for quality and size the quails of Italy bear off the palm, and epicures discover in them what they call the 'Amontillado flavor,' which is attributable to the birds' feeding on the succulent shoots of the vine. These birds should not be dressed in any other fashion than roasted or enpapillotes. The quail, fair in form, pleasant in color, and delicate in flavor, is utterly spoilt if plunged in any liquid, for so evanescent is the distinctive taste of the bird, that a sharp fire alone will prevent it from evaporating".
"One of the sights of the streets of Paris to-day are the hand-carts full of live quails (cailles de vigne) which arc wheeled about by itinerant poulterers. The quails are covered in with a wire netting, through which the customer selects those that promise the most succulence. The birds are usually taken home and killed just before cooking. The price of a plump quail is 20 cents, while a very fine bird will bring ten cents more".
"In such a dish as a compote of quails, any flavor the bird might originally have possessed is utterly ruined by the bacon, the parsley, the green onions, the mushrooms, the sauce, and the seasonings with which the stewed caille is smothered. 'This dish,' the illustrious chef Ude somewhat patronizingly informed his foreign patrons, 'would not do for an English dinner,' an opinion in which we entirely agree. A galantine of quails is not much better.