Quail are small game birds that are closely related to partridges and pheasants. Out of approximately 130 species distributed across North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, six species, including the northern bobwhite, the California quail, the Gambel's quail, the scaled quail, the mountain quail and Montezuma's quail, are native to the United States, where they are hunted for their meat. These birds can be prepared in many ways, including in a Crock-Pot, where a slow, moist cooking environment will keep their flesh tender and juicy.
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Rinse the quail inside and out, then pat them dry.
Place a skillet on the stove over high heat and add the butter or oil. When the pan is very hot, add the quail. When the first side is brown and stops sticking to the pan, turn it with a pair of tongs and brown the next side until all sides are uniformly browned. If you are browning more than one quail in the same pan, make sure there is at least one-fourth inch between them to allow the heat to circulate.
Cut up the quail and place the pieces into the crock pot, making sure that you do not fill it more than two-thirds full. You also can place the birds in whole, but be aware that this might increase the cooking time slightly.
Pour your choice of wet ingredients over the birds, such as cream soups, chicken broth and/or white wine. The amount of liquid varies widely with the recipe, but should generally not cover more than half the meat.
Cook eight quail for three to four hours on high, then reduce the temperature to low and cook for another seven to eight hours or until the meat is tender.
Add spices, such as bay leaves, salt and pepper, during the last hour of cooking so they retain their maximum potency.