Quail may look feisty, but according to Orleans dentist Ben Chung, they're calm enough to make good neighbors. With controversies erupting in some towns over the right to keep backyard livestock, Chung is lucky his layers are so friendly.
Beyond good humor, the birds boast another asset: good eggs. Though little larger than a cherry tomato in size, the large-yolked eggs pack a punch, flavor wise, and are considered a delicacy in many countries.
At my house, the favorite way to eat them is fried up alongside a piece of homemade toast, or hard-boiled as a delicate snack. Either way, we can easily eat a half dozen at a sitting—it takes 6 or so to cover a piece of toast.
Recently, I tried them in a twist on the more traditional chicken egg hole-in-the-wall breakfast. Creating four tiny holes in a piece of just toasted anadama bread, I threw it into a hot pan and cracked four quail eggs into the ragged gaps. In moments I had flipped it, eggs firm and toast crackling, and allowed the other side to warm. On the plate, I crumbled a bit of chevre over top, and layered on a few slices of tomato. With a dash of salt and pepper, it made an excellent start to the day, in miniature.
HOLE IN THE WALL QUAIL EGGS, with chevre and tomato
Toast 1 slice bread. Cut 4 bottlecap-sized holes in each quarter of the bread, and place the slice in a pan over medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Crack 4 quail eggs into the 4 holes, and let cook until eggs are firm on bottom. Flip, adding an additional 1/2 tablespoon butter if needed, and cook until eggs are done to taste. Serve warm with a layer of crumbled chevre and several slices tomato, with salt and pepper to taste.
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