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Posts tagged ‘game birds’

What is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet has been coming out of the cave and into the mainstream over the past few years. This return to pre-agricultural eating has its detractors and supporters, like any dietary trend. But in a world where people seem to be eating themselves to death with processed foods, the Paleo Diet encourages a return to real foods that our primal ancestors would have eaten. If it’s a trend, it’s the oldest one around.

Dr. Loren Cordain, Phd., who is the founder of the Paleolithic movement, and in fact coined the term “Paleo Diet,” explains the simple premise of the Paleo lifestyle.


At the most basic, a Paleo lifestyle returns us to our ancestral diet – what we would have hunted and gathered: meats, fish, greens, fruits, seeds and nuts. It’s an unusual diet in that it bucks many established verities, such as the dangers of saturated fats and the desirability of grains. Humans in the Paleolithic era would not have counted calories, or found any low-fat, processed diet foods in the store. Intent on survival, they would have eaten all the saturated fats and nutrient-dense foods they could get their hands on.

The modern-day followersof Paleo do the same. They revel in eating pastured pork and poultry, grass-fed beef and grass-fed lamb (because animals wouldn’t have eaten grains either), game meats and game birds and offal. These proteins are balanced with natural fats, vegetables and small amounts of fruit and nuts.Paleo Meat Strip

So what does the diet eliminate? Noticeably absent are all grains and legumes, which came along later in our evolution, during the agricultural age over the past 10,000 years. Grains and legumes are understood to be harmful, because we have not yet evolved to digest them and absorb the nutrients in foods introduced during the agricultural era of human history.

The Paleo Diet also eliminates dairy and refined sugar, as well as hydrogenated vegetable oils like canola, margarine and soybean oil. All of these are either late additions to the human diet, or processed replacements for products from nature, such as animal fats and olive, coconut or avocado oils.

The Paleo Diet is not an attempt to accurately reenact the diet of cavemen, or return modern people to the Stone Age. Instead, it is a return to simple, unprocessed foods, made at home with real ingredients. The followers of Paleo Diet feel that many chronic health issues are the result of the modern diet, which relies heavily on many of the processed items listed above.


A basic Paleo plan encourages people to exercise moderately, sleep deeply and in sync with the setting sun, following natural Circadian rhythms, and to eliminate external stress. This Paleo Diet 101 from Paleo Leap is a good place to start with the essentials.

It may well be an effort to follow this kind of eating plan in the modern world. But when you look at the ingredients of the packaged food in most stores and realize how far from a natural diet we have come, perhaps a return to simpler times makes sense. Many people are reporting health benefits, such as weight loss, improved immune function and increased energy on the Paleo plan.

And if you think a Paleo approach means you will be eating dull meals, take a look at Simply That Paleo Guy’s blog for meaty inspiration, like this photo, encouragement and dietary guidelines.

paleo dinner

While not all D’Artagnan products fit the Paleo plan, many of them are perfect for those exploring this primal dietary path. From wild boar and venison to game sausage made without dairy, additives or preservatives, we have plenty of premium protein – the cornerstone of a good Paleo diet.

All Wild Game is 20% OFF this Week!

That’s right!  This sale includes the four-legged game (venison, wild boar, buffalo, rabbit) as well as the winged varieties (pheasant, squab, quail, guinea hen). And our wild Scottish game is back in season, so there’s nothing to grouse about. Get over to and get your game on.  Sale ends Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013.


All About Quail

Quail is a collective name for several genera of small, plump birds in the pheasant family. Species or subspecies of the genus Coturnix are native to all continents except the Americas.

The Pharaoh, or Coturnix coturnix, quail are of Eurasian stock (found in Asia, Africa and Europe), and are migratory upland birds that travel in large bevies of up to a hundred. The small birds are physically unable to fly long distances. Instead, they shoot forth in a straight line at low altitudes, leaping from one stopping point to the next, crossing arid wasteland, rivers, or swamps. Often they exhaust themselves in the process, dropping to the ground virtually unable to move. From a hunter’s perspective, their straight flight and easy fatigue make them simple prey.

This behavior gives rise to the belief that it was hordes of the common quail (Coturnix coturnix Japonica), called selav, or “plump one,” in Hebrew, that saved the Israelites wandering in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. Was this the God-sent miracle or manna mentioned in Exodus and Numbers? The birds certainly could have been traveling in their annual migration. As late as the turn of the last century, Egyptian bird catchers still exported more than 2 million quail a year to European chefs.

European, Japanese, and rain quail of southern Asia belong to the same family, Phasianidae, of the order of Galliformes. They are classified as Coturnix. Wild quail are not the same breed, although they are Galliformes.

When early settlers arrived in what is now the northeastern United States, they encountered birds about the same size and coloring as the quail they had known in the Old World, and misnamed them. To complicate matters, the bobwhite quail (so called for the male’s loud whistle) was known as a partridge in the South. Among quail found in America are the bobwhite, Gambel’s quail, mountain quail, and Montezuma quail.

Though technically a game bird, quail that is available in stores will always be from a quail farm. If you want wild quail, you’ll have to hunt it yourself. Over the last 25 years, farmed quail has become more widely available in the United States. It was not always so. When Ariane Daguin founded D’Artagnan in 1985 quail were harder to find, and usually ended up at white-tablecloth restaurants. But thankfully, today quail is being prepared in many home kitchens.

Few game birds are as versatile, simple to cook, and easy to enjoy as quail. These plump, juicy birds should be the basis for “Game 101,” because they make everyone – from novices to professionals – look like a champion. Grilled, broiled, or sautéed, they’re almost impossible to ruin. The medium-dark flesh has a mildly gamey flavor that readily takes to being marinated, stuffed, or highly seasoned. They are small, so allow one quail per person for an hors d’oeuvre, and at least 2per person for an entrée. Because they are lean, they need to be cooked quickly over high heat and served medium rare to retain their moisture and flavor.



Grecian Quail on the Grill
Quail with Artichokes Vinaigrette
Quail in Beet, Apricot and Tomato Chutney