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Small birds pack punch of flavor for intimate holiday

Thanksgiving always evokes images of tables crowded with friends and family, sideboards piled high with platters and Mr. Tom Turkey taking pride of place in the midst of it all.

But not everyone has the space, or the people, to celebrate on such a large scale. Roasting a turkey breast is still too much-and seems so incomplete.

Chicken is ho-hum; duck fatty.

Consider then roasted quail, two per person.

Quail gives you the "whole bird" look of the holiday but its tiny size makes roasting a snap. Glazed with syrup made with apple-cranberry chutney, the quails look elegant on the plate paired with white rice and sauteed spinach. Preface the entree with something simple: shrimp cocktail and follow with a green salad, assorted cheeses and store-bought individually-sized pumpkin tarts.


- Shrimp cocktail

- Chutney-glazed roasted quail

- Steamed basmati rice

- Sauteed spinach

- Greens and apple salad

- Assorted cheeses

- Pumpkin tarts


- Substitute small Cornish game hens, one per person, if quail is unavailable. Roasting time will increase to about 1 hour.

- Trussing the quail makes a tidy package but the birds look fine untied too.


A Spanish red Rioja, made mostly from the tempranillo grape, would be a good wine choice.


4 quail, about 5 ounces each

4 sprigs thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup cranberry chutney or other chutney

Juice of 1 orange

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Makes 2 servings

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Insert thyme sprigs in body cavities season birds inside and out with salt and pepper to taste. Place the birds in a small roasting pan or casserole dish.

Combine the chutney, juice and curry powder in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high (100 percent power), stirring occasionally, until reduced to a light syrup, about 4 minutes. Spoon syrup over the quail.

Roast quail, turning and basting twice with glaze and any pan juices, until cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving: 490 calories, 49 percent of calories from fat, 26 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 165 mg cholesterol, 18 g carbohydrates, 43 g protein, 414 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.