Autumn is the season of the hunt. In Texas, it used to be that quail, dove, and pheasant were the exclusive bounty of hunters. No longer. Fresh, farm-raised game birds are available year-round in the marketplace.
The important thing in cooking quail is to avoid drying out the birds. This menu features an easy technique that keeps them moist. The dish can even be cooked and reheated. Juniper berries and gin also flavor dove and chicken nicely.
Red cabbage shows off the special bouquet of sherry wine vinegar to perfection. Served with another relatively new Texas product, goat cheese, it is a hearty complement for a game dinner. Warm caramel pears cap a satisfying meal of the tastes of a Texas autumn. For a harmonious wine accompaniment, try a 1984 Simi Chardonnay.
Hill Country Wild Game in Burnet (512-765-7561) is a reliable supplier of quail. J. M. Buck, who runs the facility, formerly known as R&B Quail Farm, provides many Texas grocery stores with quail and other game, including pheasant, rabbit, duck, wild boar, and venison. Two companies in Texas produce goat cheese: Larsen Farms in Blanco (512-833-5192) and the Mozzarella Company in Dallas (214-741-4072). Check with them regarding availability in stores or by mail order.
Plan of attack: Set oven at 450 degrees. Prepare vegetables, quail, and pears. Cook cabbage and quail first, then place pears in oven as you sit down to dinner.