October in Texas doesn’t always mean cool weather, but it does mean the beginning of quail season. At Anthony’s in Houston, chef Bruce McMillian stuffs the small succulent birds with seasoned wild rice and couscous, roasts them to a turn, and finishes them with a garnet-hued blackberry sauce. Hunters may prefer to stalk their own wild quail; McMillian encourages shoppers to track down the farm-raised, deboned variety at specialty meat markets and grocery stores. Surrounded by colorful autumn greens wilted in a garlic-tinged olive oil, the bird on your plate makes a perfect light supper on a sultry Texas fall night. Small succulent birds stuffed with seasoned wild rice and couscous, roasted to a turn, and finished with a garnet-hued blackberry sauce.

Stuffed Quail

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrots
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 cup cooked couscous
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
Salt and pepper to taste
4 deboned quail
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium-hot skillet, sauté butter, celery, onion, and carrots for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and mix with rice, couscous, and sage; season with salt and pepper. Stuff quail and roast, basting occasionally with olive oil, to internal temperature of 140 degrees (about 10 minutes; 20 to 25 minutes if quail are not deboned).

Blackberry Essence

2 1/4 cups frozen blackberries
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Reserve 1/4 cup berries and 1/2 teaspoon orange zest for garnish. In a medium saucepan, simmer remaining berries, zest, sugar and chicken stock for 15 minutes, until berries are fully cooked. Put cornstarch in a small bowl and add enough water to form a thin paste. Add gradually to blackberry mixture, whisking over low heat until mixture is consistency of maple syrup. Strain to remove seeds from sauce.

Wilted Autumn Greens

1/2 pound spinach
1/2 pound arugula
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large head radicchio, cut into approximately 1-inch cubes
1 pound small heads Belgian endive, quartered lengthwise, cores removed

Rinse, dry, and destem spinach and arugula. In a large skilled (not iron), sauté garlic in oil over medium heat until golden. Add spinach, arugula, radicchio, and endive; cook, tossing continually, until barely wilted.

To serve, arrange greens in center of plate, top with quail, and surround with sauce. Garnish with whole berries and orange zest. Serves 4.